TROY’s Kosiba provides introduction for award-winning novel by John Herrmann

Posted: Wednesday, 20 January 2016

MONTGOMERY - A book featuring an introduction by a Troy University English professor has garnered a 2016 Michigan Notable Book Award, the state of Michigan's major literary award. The novel was one of 20 books selected by a committee after reviewing close to 250 submissions.

Dr. Sara A. Kosiba, associate professor of English at TROY’s Montgomery Campus, used portions of the research conducted during her one-week research fellowship at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin in 2014, to pen the introduction for the first American publication of John Herrmann's novel, "What Happens." Her research fellowship was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Research Fellowship Endowment from the Ransom Center.

"This is a huge honor for a relatively obscure author and novel," Dr. Kosiba said. "Hopefully this award will increase recognition of Herrmann's life and work not only within his home state of Michigan, but also within the larger reading public."

The novel was originally published in France in 1926, but was banned in America on charges of obscenity. The book is described as a coming-of-age story set in a fictional town based on Herrmann’s hometown of Lansing, Mich.

"Hermann's novel was really ahead of its time when it was first published," Dr. Kosiba said. "While individuals in the 1920s objected to the seemingly immoral content of high school and college students drinking and engaging in physical relationships prior to marriage, by today's standards, the content is positively tame. The novel serves as a fascinating point of discussion for the evolution, or lack thereof in some ways, of teenage behavior and also issues of censorship."

Herrmann, who died in 1959 at the age of 59, went on to publish two additional novels - "Summer is Ended" (1932) and "The Salesman" (1939). His short novel "The Big Short Trip," tied for the Scribner's Magazine Best Short Novel of the Year Award in 1932 with a piece by Thomas Wolfe. Despite famous literary friends such as Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos and William Carlos Williams, Herrmann's work never achieved any significant critical or popular recognition. Dr. Kosiba is currently at work on a biography of Herrmann and compiling a bibliography of his publications.

Dr. Kosiba's research specializes in 20th century Midwestern writers, including Herrmann, Ernest Hemingway, Dawn Powell and Josephine Herbst. She is a past president of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature and an editorial board member of Middle West Review and the "Dictionary of Midwestern Literature, Volume II," forthcoming in 2016 from Indiana University Press.


John Herrmann's, "What Happens."