Year of the Cicada


by Mei-Mei Holland

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 the 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 a uniquely spare and intimate voice.

Paperback | 112 pages | Jaded Ibis Press | 2023

Mei-Mei Holland is a mixed-race Chinese-American writer from the Washington, DC area. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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