cover image The Season of Migration

The Season of Migration

Nellie Hermann. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (244p) ISBN 978-0-374-25547-3

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.)