Holly Thompson

Holly Thompson was raised in New England and earned a B.A. in biology from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. from New York University's Creative Writing Program. Longtime resident of Japan, she teaches creative writing at Yokohama City University. Holly's fiction often relates to Japan and Asia. Her YA verse novel The Language Inside deals with language both spoken and unspoken and, through poetry that crosses boundaries, connects a Japan-raised American girl with a Cambodian-American boy and the patients they assist in a long-term care center. In her YA verse novel Orchards, which received the 2012 APALA Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, Kana, a half Japanese and half Jewish-American girl, is sent to spend the summer with Shizuoka relatives after the death of a classmate. Her novel Ash, set in Kagoshima and Kyoto, has been recommended as a teaching tool in high school and university classrooms studying Japan, Asia and intercultural issues. Her picture book The Wakame Gatherers depicts a bicultural girl who goes seaweed gathering with her Japanese and American grandmothers. Holly edited, and wrote the foreword to, Tomo: Friendship through Fiction--An Anthology of Japan Teen Fiction, a young adult anthology of Japan-related fiction to benefit teens in the earthquake- and tsunami-affected areas of Tohoku. For more information about Tomo, visit the Tomo blog. Holly's short stories, poetry and articles have been published in magazines and journals in the United States and Japan and anthologized in The Broken Bridge: Fiction from Expatriates in Literary Japan. She is a regular contributor to Wingspan, the ANA inflight magazine. Holly serves as Regional Advisor of the Tokyo chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI Tokyo).


  • "A wonderfully insightful first novel about a young woman living within two cultures. Thompson adeptly explores the lasting bonds of friendship and the courage needed to face the past in order to embrace the future."
    Gail Tsukiyama, author of Women of the Silk and The Samurai's Garden
  • "Holly Thompson has a gift for bringing the mind's eye to focus on the details of the moment, whether it be the relentless falling ash of Kagoshima, or a snack of grilled squid legs and barley tea. Her tale of lost companionship, guilt, and redemption takes place against a minutely and lovingly woven tapestry of daily life in modern Japan."
    Alex Kerr, author of Lost Japan
  • "This thoughtful debut should satisfy readers in search of a convincing fictional take on life in contemporary Japan."
    Publishers Weekly