Cover image for The season of migration
The season of migration
Hermann, Nellie, 1978-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.
Physical Description:
244 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Library
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The lyrically told story of one of the world's greatest artists finding his true calling

Though Vincent van Gogh is one of the most popular painters of all time, we know very little about a ten-month period in the painter's youth when he and his brother, Theo, broke off all contact. In The Season of Migration , Nellie Hermann conjures this period in a profoundly imaginative, original, and heartbreaking vision of Van Gogh's early years, before he became the artist we know today.
In December 1878, Vincent van Gogh arrives in the coal-mining village of Petit Wasmes in the Borinage region of Belgium, a blasted and hopeless landscape of hovels and slag heaps and mining machinery. Not yet the artist he is destined to become, Vincent arrives as an ersatz preacher, barely sanctioned by church authorities but ordained in his own mind and heart by a desperate and mistaken spiritual vocation. But what Vincent experiences in the Borinage will change him. Coming to preacha useless gospel he thought he knew and believed, he learns about love, suffering, and beauty, ultimately coming to see the world anew and finding the divine not in religion but in our fallen human world.
In startlingly beautiful and powerful language, Hermann transforms our understanding of Van Gogh and the redemptive power of art.

Author Notes

Nellie Hermann was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her first novel, The Cure for Grief, was published in 2008. She teaches creative writing at Columbia University and has taught and lectured widely on the use of creativity in nontraditional contexts.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Though painter Vincent van Gogh maintained a prodigious correspondence with his beloved brother, Theo, throughout his life, art historians have long puzzled over a mysterious 10-month gap in this exchange. In her masterful work of historical fiction, Hermann (The Cure for Grief, 2008) uses Van Gogh's actual letters of August 1879 and June 1880 as bookends and imagines the letters he might have written in between. Employing the sensitive and searching voice of the artist in his midtwenties, Hermann extends the origin story of Van Gogh's career, recounting his time spent as a preacher and schoolmaster in the impoverished mining town of Borinage, Belgium. Inspired by Van Gogh's lyrical and impressionistic writing style, Hermann envisions the artist's spiritual questioning during this period and the deepening empathy brought about by his romances and relationships with the townspeople. Between bouts of melancholy and lust for life euphoria, Van Gogh responds to the bleakness of his setting by embracing art and beauty as his calling. Everything belongs to the world of pictures, he realizes, everything we see. --Bosch, Lindsay Copyright 2015 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The fledgling talent of a future artistic giant is the subject of this second novel by Hermann (The Cure for Grief). Young Vincent Van Gogh ventures out on a journey into the mining region of Belgium, observing the impoverished, often wretched lives of those who work underground. Written half as a third-person narrative, half as Vincent's letters to his brother, Theo, the book gradually illuminates Vincent's artistic development through his experiences of family, love, spirituality, and occasional, sublime glimpses of beauty amid the gloom and dust of his environment. Vivid imagery skillfully evokes Van Gogh's paintings, an effect marred only by moments of heavy-handedness in the concluding scenes. Subtle and winding, but deeply felt, the novel succeeds as an origin story of a particular creative genius. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.