Jon Volkmer Publishes Brave in Season

Jon Volkmer Publishes Brave in Season

Friday, October 27, 2023

We're delighted to share that two-time KHN resident Jon Volkmer (2008 and 2010) recently Published Brave in Season and he'll be doing 2 public presentations about his book in Nebraska City!

Friday Nov.10 6pm at The Keeping Room | 717 Central Ave.

Monday Nov.13 6pm at Morton-James Public Library | 923 First Corso

Jon Volkmer grew up in Nebraska City. He has an MA in creative writing from Denver University, and a PhD in English from UNL. He is Professor of English and Director of Creative writing at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania


Set in 1950 in the rural Midwest, and inspired by real events, this gripping novel explores what happens when an African American railroad repair crew is dropped into a tiny, tight-knit farm community. Will frictions build to an all-too familiar American tragedy, or can tensions be overcome in that uniquely American way, with balls and bats and a field of green?

Seventeen-year-old Carlin Littman has big dreams, much bigger than will fit into sleepy Julian, Nebraska, population 172. She has set her sights on college, Chicago, and beyond. The arrival of the rail workers, known as gandy dancers, is an interesting distraction in the bored summer days where her only job is looking after her little brother, Timmy. When she befriends Sam Washington, the awkward, bookish gandy a year younger than she, neither of them have any idea what they have set in motion.

Many decades later, Tim returns to Nebraska, attempting to recover the lost history through interviews with the few surviving seniors who might remember. These encounters provide the basis for a story that lies somewhere between myth and memory. A story where the mutual respect between the oldest gandy, Jerome, and the store owner, Dave, offers townsfolk an alternative to stereotype and prejudice. A story where the new rail line is being built over the route of the underground railroad, challenging a new generation of farm families to live up to that heritage. A story where an unlikely pick-up game propels players on both sides to epic performances.

Race, railroads, and baseball are iconic themes that come together in this moving story of the American heartland.


"Summoning a large and vivid cast of characters, Jon Volkmer takes us back to the Midwest of the postwar years and to events that rattle a small town, forcing it to confront its demons. Brave in Season captures a historical moment that soon will lie beyond living memory, evoking a mythic small-town romance of baseball and then drawing from it a gripping parable of racial oppression. Is it possible for a writer to be heartfelt, funny and warm while also providing a stark portrayal of American racism? That’s the magic trick Jon Volkmer has pulled off with Brave in Season.  Imagine Field of Dreams meets To Kill a Mockingbird, and you’ll have some sense of what lies in store for you in this deeply rewarding novel."—Rand Richards Cooper, author of The Last to Go

“A richly textured and engaging narrative that tells a multilayered story. This book needed to be written, and deserves to be read.”—JB Manheim, Author of The Deadball Files series