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Fiction Literary

Cicada Summer

A Novel

by (author) Erica McKeen

WW Norton
Initial publish date
Jun 2024
Literary, Family Life, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2024
    List Price

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A woman, her grandfather, and her lover quarantine in the remote lakeside wilderness—where their world splits apart at the seams.

In the summer of 2020, with a heat wave bearing down and a brood of periodical cicadas climbing into the trees, Husha mourns the recent death of her mother while quarantining with her ailing grandfather, Arthur, at his lakeside cabin in remote Ontario. They’re soon joined by Husha’s ex-lover, Nellie, who arrives without explanation to complete their trio.

Also among them is a strange book, discovered by Husha while cleaning out her mother’s house. When she, Arthur, and Nellie begin to read it together, they learn that her mother’s last missive was a short story collection, crawling with unsettling imagery and terrifying transformations. As the stories bleed into their cloistered life in the cabin, they must each reckon with loss, longing, and what it means to truly know another person. Incantatory and atmospheric, Cicada Summer is a dazzlingly original novel about how we grieve and care for one another.

About the author

Erica McKeen was born in London, Ontario. She studied at Western University, and her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, longlisted for the Guernica Prize, and shortlisted for The Malahat Review Open Season Awards. Her stories have been published in PRISM international, filling Station, The Dalhousie Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Tear is her first novel. Tear is her first novel, and has been awarded the 2023 Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Literary Fiction, selected as a 49th Shelf Editor’s Pick, and named a Globe and Mail Best Book of 2022.

Erica McKeen's profile page

Editorial Reviews

An ethereal and eerie novel that ingeniously explores how the full depths of both yearning and despair are not only lush and intricate but expanding.—Iain Reid, New York Times best-selling author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Foe, and We Spread

Mesmerizingly subtle and elegant, Cicada Summer investigates which stories must be told in order to unravel that which is unfathomable. As the cicadas chirp, their husks dropping from trees, Erica McKeen masterfully takes us into the liminal space of grief, into a world that crisps alive while it vanishes. —Gerardo Sámano Córdova, author of Monstrilio

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