marnie mueller

Selected Works

Panel presentation
A discussion of the moral dilemma involved in revealing a subject's secret in a biography
Fiction
A daughter journeys to Puerto Rico to help her mother die
A novel set in the Tule Lake Japanese Segregation Camp in California
a novel set in the rainforest of the Ecuadorian Rainforest
non-fiction
A short essay about the difficulty of creating fiction out of historical autobiography
Readers Guides
My Mother's Island was a 2002 Paz & Associates Readers Group Choice
The Climate of the Country was a 1999 Paz & Associates Readers Group Choice

The Climate of the Country



“This is a compelling novel of sorrow, idealism and loyalty documenting how Japanese Americans were driven from their American homes into American concentration camps and how they struggled honorably to preserve their dignity in the face of insult and exile.” -- Grace Paley


“Novelist Mueller was born in the Tule Lake Camp, and her story is loosely based on her parents’ experiences, but what makes this a riveting novel is not only the strong sense of history and the particulars of the racist internment but also the way the politics is played out in family, work, and erotic love.” -- Booklist


“An engrossing character study of two highly principled people forced by their patriotism and wartime duress to act against their beliefs and at the expense of their marriage. Simple, unadorned prose illuminates the starkness of the setting and the ethical and emotional dilemmas faced by the protagonists.” -- Publishers Weekly

“This isn't just a Japanese vs. Americans novel...It tells the story of people struggling with their consciences in the midst of a demoralizing situation. Having been born at the Tule Lake Camp, Mueller does an excellent job at putting the reader right in the middle of everything. This one is highly recommended.” -- Dead Trees Review


“Mueller’s triumph is to show us the effects this horrible episode in our nation’s history had on the people who experienced it firsthand: acquiescence, accommodation and limited rebellion from the prisoners, distrust and disillusionment for the jailers, and hatred on both sides. She exposes these feelings and tensions within a well-written story that engages one’s attention from the beginning and never lets up.” -- Frank Caso, The Hartford Courant

“The unfolding turmoil gives the story an urgent momentum, but it is the characters and their very human passions and foibles that create the real drama and make vivid the stark reality of Tule Lake... Mueller’s prose rings with authenticity, both in the historical truth, and more remarkably, in the portrayal of fictional lives in the context of historical events.” -- David Takami, The International Examiner


“I believe it is important for American writers, especially those who are White, to tackle the camps. After all, the camps say just as much about White America as they do about Japanese America... It’s a great story about the worst of the camps.” -- William Hohri, The Rafu Shimpo

“The grit, the cold and the desolation of the Tule Lake camp provide the setting for Mueller’s powerful new novel, The Climate of the Country. But it is the rugged politics inside the barbed wire of the camp that is her real subject -- and her real contribution to the growing body of testimony about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.” -- John Marshall, Seattle Post-Intelligencer


“The Climate of the Country presents the situation in the camps from multiple points of view -- including Japanese-American radicals, the military men in charge of the camp, and the variety of American civilians who staff the facility...It is a tribute to the novelist’s empathic powers that if you took her name off the book you might not be able to guess the sex or even the nationality of the writer.” -- Joe Meyers, The Connecticut Post

“Mueller covers an astonishing amount of psychological terrain in prose as flinty as the wretched place, tragic circumstances, and moral failures it so vividly imagines...” -- Donna Seaman, Hungry Mind Review

“The Climate of the Country ripples with tension and excitement. Mueller tosses in eroticism, suspense and historical fiction that addresses a wound in the United States that is very slow to heal. Jason Zappe, Copley News Service


“Mueller has written a powerful and relevant story of love and faith put to the test. She shows how the exposed fragility of deeply-held beliefs may threaten a spiritual and moral collapse—but may also offer the chance to strengthen and reaffirm those values we hold dear.” -- Tara Ison, The San Francisco Chronicle/​Examiner

“Mueller has an uncanny skill with motivation that allows a reader to divine what drives her characters to do what they do, and this plays very well with the turmoil of the historical tragedy behind the novel. ‘Erst kommt Fressen, dann die Moral,’ declares Berthold Brecht—first comes chow, then the moral. In The Climate of the Country, the moral is exemplary -- and the chow’s just great.” -- Doug Spangle, The Asian Reporter