Related Writings:

- "Idle Bird," a piece I wrote for The Paris Review about the story that inspired the novel.

- "A Walk with Vincent," FSG Works in Progress


"The Season of Migration is best apprehended not as a conventional novel but as a portrait of a crisis. John Berger observed that van Gogh’s extraordinary openness allowed him to become permeated by — or to leave himself and permeate — whatever he saw. At her frequent best, Nellie Hermann achieves a similar feat of communion. Her searching empathy and exacting passion accrue as brush strokes on a canvas, until at last we may stand back, perceive the whole and let it enter us." - The New York Times Book Review

"Hermann follows up her well-received debut with a sensitive novel about a crucial turning point in the life of Vincent van Gogh... Finely wrought fiction eschewing the usual clichés about artistic inspiration in favor of deeper, more organic understanding." -- Kirkus Reviews

"The enduring mystery of Van Gogh’s life will always be how this ugly, passionate, self-deprecating, self-absorbed man turned his particular vision into something that transformed how we all see the world. By imagining her way into the world as Vincent sees it, Hermann is able to send a shaft of light into that darkness." -- The Washington Post

...The valuable contrib­ution made by The Season of Migration is to reimagine Van Gogh not as an isolated genius but as a social and historical man, horrified by the poverty of the Borinage miners and his impotence in the face of the death, maiming and disease the mine inflicts on them...So while Van Gogh is represented here as the man of legend – religious, visionary, tormented – these characteristics are rooted in his experience, and it is primarily as a witness that he emerges from these pages, an artist forged in rage at what is done to people and the callous unknowing of those who refuse to see." - Times Literary Supplement

"Hermann points her novel’s gaze away from what we expect, and sticks her landing in creating a story that holds its own against other labor and period narratives both invented and imagined. Attempting a novel of such a giant figure is a bit like punching the playground’s tallest bully right in the nose: a showy confidence will get you only so far. But a historical novel as successful as this one—both in scope and in the beauty of its language—reminds us that literature can do anything, and leaves us in awe of the author’s ambition. We have a language here that in its beauty does justice to van Gogh’s own brilliance; and in its structure, justice to the tumult of the painter’s troubled, violent life."  -- Electric Literature

"A masterful work of historical fiction." -- Booklist

"Hermann is a masterful wordsmith, and the book’s prose shimmers like van Gogh’s wheat field with the language of light and dark, of sun and earth and the five senses. Yet the words are not beautiful for their own sake. Their vividness, their saturation, help us see the world as van Gogh must have seen it: riotous, overwhelming. By the time the action builds towards its terrible climax, we’re surprised to discover we love this dismal place as much as van Gogh does." -- Brown Alumni Magazine

“Vivid imagery skillfully evokes Van Gogh’s paintings... Subtle and winding, but deeply felt, the novel succeeds as an origin story of a particular creative genius.” —Publishers Weekly

"A wrenching but lyrical imagining of the early life of the painter Vincent van Gogh, his complex relationship with his brother, Theo, and his birth as an artist." - Tampa Bay Times

"The Season of Migration is Nellie Hermann’s second novel and be warned: this is nothing close to a sophomore slump. This novel is breathtaking. The story that Hermann tells about Van Gogh has such a fluidity and colorfulness it quickly becomes a book to savor; you’ll never wish for the end." -- As the Plot Thins

"Novelist Nellie Hermann doesn't replicate the work of Stone and other biographers in the new The Season of Migration, but attempts to add to our understanding of Van Gogh with an imagining of a 10-month "silent period" in which he broke off communication with his younger brother, Theo, to whom Van Gogh wrote hundreds of letters during his lifetime. Hermann describes the silence that lasted from August 1879 to June 1880 as one born of heartbreak and frustration as Van Gogh's faith fails in the wake of a mining disaster and he comes to see his call to ministry as a mistake." -- The Associated Press

"With a nose for eloquence exceeded only by her chutzpah, Hermann blends in chunks of actual “Dear Theo” correspondence bracketing van Gogh’s Petit Wasmes residence with fabricated letters to flesh in the painter’s service as minister manqué. The somberly engrossing result, “The Season of Migration,” is a risk-taking hybrid, part epistolary impersonation, part act of biographical second-guessing, postulating van Gogh’s abbreviated ministry as an epiphanic sojourn toward self-definition.."         -- The Boston Globe

"Like a painter, Hermann seems to know that the secret to adding dimension lies in keeping the vanishing point in view instead of getting lost in the subject. In “The Season of Migration” she assumes Van Gogh’s voice and point of view so vividly that readers want to believe that she has captured the painter’s actual experience." -- Star Tribune

"This novel is rich with detail, finely imagined. Vincent’s sensitivity to his environment is so acute it is almost excruciating, and Hermann gets this across well." - The Providence Journal

"This deft, highly psychological portrait of Vincent Van Gogh during a lesser-known period of the artists life takes us through the unraveling and eventual affirming of the artists self, in a mesmerizing character study of a young Van Gogh wracked—contradictorily—by self-doubt and an overwhelming sense of right and wrong. Nellie Hermanns brilliance lies in her ability to create empathy with an extremely unusual character, providing nuanced insight into thought processes—in both first and third person—that would not otherwise be relatable." -- The Common

"This lyrical novel follows the years that Vincent van Gogh spent as a preacher in a downtrodden village in Belgium, where 40-year-old men work in the mines and footprints in the snow are lined with a black rim of coal dust... The novel unfolds through letters to his brother, Theo, and third-person passages set a year later -- the combination revealing the unexpected story of a man forced to question everything he believes in. Along the way, look out for small, inspired delights of language, such as when Van Gogh describes his brother's scent as "a little sweet and a little musty, like a basket of raspberries shut in a cellar -- each a glittering ray of light in a vast and starry night." -- The Huffington Post


-The Los Angeles Review of Books, March 21, 2015

- Forth Magazine, April 23, 2015

- Between the Lines: Writing and Empathy - WMUK, NPR for Southwest Michigan, January 26, 2015

- Literary New England Radio Show, January 26, 2015

- As The Plot Thins, January 8th 2015

- Columbia University School of Continuing Education, January 13, 2015