NOVELIST Marnie Mueller was the first Caucasian born in the Tule Lake Japanese American Segregation Camp in northern California where her father, a pacifist, and her mother, a teacher, were working during World War II. In 1963 she joined the Peace Corps, reporting for duty on the very day that President Kennedy was assassinated. She spent two years in Guayaquil, Ecuador living and working in a barrio. Subsequently she served as a community organizer in East Harlem, New York, as the Director of Summer Programming for New York City under Mayor John Lindsay, as a producer of rock and folk concerts, and as the Program Director of Pacifica Radio in New York (WBAI).
Drawing on her Peace Corps experience, Marnie Mueller wrote her widely acclaimed first novel, Green Fires: A Novel of the Ecuadorian Rainforest (Curbstone Press, cloth 1994, paper 1999). It was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers choice in 1994, a New York Times Book Review "New and Noteworthy in Paperback" pick in the spring of 1999, and the recipient of various awards, including: A 1995 American Book Award, a 1995 Maria Thomas Award for Outstanding Fiction, and a 1995 Best Books for the Teenage (New York City Public Library). It was optioned for a feature film by Craig Anderson Productions, L.A. A German translation, Grune Feuer, was published by btb of Goldmann/Bertelsmann, Munich in 1996.
With her second novel, The Climate of the Country, set in the Tule Lake Japanese American Camp, Marnie Mueller once again transformed her remarkable personal experience into fiction. The Climate of the Country was published to acclaim by Curbstone Press in 1999. The novel was extensively reviewed both nationally and internationally in the Far East, England, and Italy, in print as well as on such electronic media outlets such as NPR's "Fresh Air." The San Francisco Chronicle/Examiner called it "A powerful and relevant story of love and faith put to the test." The novel was chosen by Paz & Associates as a recommended book for reading groups, and it has been listed widely on required reading lists at high schools and universities as well as in special interest venues such as the National Archives Course Study recommendations on the Japanese American Internment during W.W.II. The Climate of the Country was one of two finalists in the IPPY Awards 2000, and The Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Awards 2000 awarded it an honorable mention. An Italian translation, L'Aria Che Respiravamo, was published in 1999 by Corbaccio of the Longanesi Group, Milan. It was reissued in paper in 2002 by THEA, also of the Longanesi Group, Milan.
Marnie Mueller lectures at high schools and universities, and in special interest venues on subjects related to her novels—the destruction of the rainforest in the Amazon region and the history of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. As a result of her novel Green Fires, her experience in the Peace Corps, and her long history of political activism, Peter Jennings included her in his ABC documentary The Century and also as a first-person "voice of the twentieth century" in his book of the same title.
Her latest novel, My Mother's Island (Curbstone Press 2002) is set in a small community in Puerto Rico where her family lived for twenty years. Again, it was chosen as a recommended book for reading groups by Paz & Associates and was widely reviewed and featured in electronic and print media. It was a BookSense 76 selection. In 2004, as a result of having read My Mother's Island, Tom Jagninski produced a television documentary, "Marnie Mueller, Novelist," which focuses on all three of her novels. My Mother's Island is currently under development with Karen Arthur Productions for a feature film.
Marnie Mueller was a MacDowell Colony Fellow in 2001.
She lives in New York City with her husband Fritz Mueller.