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Year of the Cicada by Mei-Mei Holland

COMING SOON: December 15, 2023


Year of the Cicada delicately charts one woman’s coming of age between two appearances of the mysterious 17-year cicada in her hometown. In poetry and lyric prose, the speaker navigates heavy silences around a missing grandmother, a world bent on sexualizing and racializing young Chinese-American women, and the occasional terrors of her own mind. The life cycles of the biblical Mid-Atlantic insects juxtapose the dark soil of intergenerational trauma, as childhood and first loves intersect with death and suicide.

The collection seamlessly blends cutting sections of fresh and unsparing lyric prose that recall Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely with an alluring poetic voice that alights on the natural and human worlds as softly and starkly as Elizabeth Bishop or Sylvia Plath. In this mixed form, Holland elegantly expresses realities of mixed-race experience. It comes at a time of unprecedented mainstream interest in Asian-American stories, and how these stories intersect with mental health––as in Everything Everywhere All At Once and Crying In H-Mart––yet does so in uniquely spare and intimate voice.

Learn more about the poet Mei-Mei Holland.

Acquired by Jaded Ibis Press’ Acquisition Editor, Lisa Pegram


Year of the Cicada is a beautiful, wise, tender, and richly layered book, exploring Mei Mei Holland’s coming-of-age experiences in the shadow of her family’s legacy of suicide. As a multiracial Chinese woman, Holland meditates on themes of intergenerational inheritance, migration, loss, fear, and longing, as she also recounts the cycles of arrival, death, transformation, departure, and return of cicadas throughout her life. Year of the Cicada is a gorgeous and haunting woven tapestry of poetry and prose that traces one woman’s awakening to the dual legacies of absence and presence that have shaped her, and to the ways in which our bodies carry so much wisdom that with time makes itself known.”
—  Anne Liu Kellor, author of Heart Radical

“In this stunning collection which ribbons between lyrical prose and distilled poems like quiet glass bells, Mei-Mei Holland tenderly elucidates the experience of trying to find oneself within the spaces of intergenerational trauma and the power of legacy, especially while living in the liminal discomfort of mixed race embodiment. ‘Maybe I’ve remembered wrong. Maybe she did talk about you. Maybe she was talking about you all the time in a language I am only learning now to understand,’ Holland writes in Year of the Cicada, a stunning distillation of the grief and witness of family as it intersects with the loss of language. Holland writes of her own transformation through the extended metaphor of the cicada which holds symbolic weight in her journey, a powerfully rendered metamorphosis we are privileged enough to honor alongside her.”
—  Addie Tsai, author of Unwieldy Creatures

Year of the Cicada is a hybrid work from a hybrid soul. Haunted by questions about her maternal grandmother, her family, and her heritage, Holland explores these mysteries alongside the miraculous life cycle of cicadas. In these pages, ‘a new dimension becomes visible,’ as the connections between strangers, lands, and insects are laid bare.”
—  Leanne Dunic, author of One and a Half of You