MHC’s Osborn Discusses New Novel

In her fourth novel, Centerville, visiting professor Karen Osborn explores an act of violence and its effect on the inhabitants of a small Midwestern town.

Centerville was inspired by an event Osborn witnessed when she was a teenager. On a summer’s day, she planned to enter a drugstore, but then turned away to walk up the street to another shop. Moments later, a bomb placed in the drugstore exploded.

“I came across the questions I had when I was a child,” says Osborn. “Like why does something like this happen, and who would do this, and why would he do it.”

Set in 1967 against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and the escalating Vietnam War, Centerville follows the lives of four people after a deadly explosion in the town.

The book is a study on human nature and how people try to make sense of the situations they find themselves in, says Osborn.

“The characters are trying to reach an understanding of something that can’t be understood. That is the truth I had to reveal.”

Osborn has authored three other novels: Patchwork, Between Earth and Sky, and The River Road.