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The Nix
by Nathan Hill


Overview - A New York Times 2016 Notable Book
Entertainment Weekly's #1 Book of the Year
A Washington Post 2016 Notable Book
A Slate Top Ten Book
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
-The Nix is a mother-son psychodrama with ghosts and politics, but it's also a tragicomedy about anger and sanctimony in America.
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More About The Nix by Nathan Hill
 
 
 
Overview
A New York Times 2016 Notable Book
Entertainment Weekly's #1 Book of the Year
A Washington Post 2016 Notable Book
A Slate Top Ten Book
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
-The Nix is a mother-son psychodrama with ghosts and politics, but it's also a tragicomedy about anger and sanctimony in America. . . . Nathan Hill is a maestro.- --John Irving

From the suburban Midwest to New York City to the 1968 riots that rocked Chicago and beyond, The Nix explores--with sharp humor and a fierce tenderness--the resilience of love and home, even in times of radical change.
It's 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson--college professor, stalled writer--has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn't seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she's re-appeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the internet, and inflames a politically divided country. The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? Two facts are certain: she's facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel's help.
To save her, Samuel will have to embark on his own journey, uncovering long-buried secrets about the woman he thought he knew, secrets that stretch across generations and have their origin all the way back in Norway, home of the mysterious Nix. As he does so, Samuel will confront not only Faye's losses but also his own lost love, and will relearn everything he thought he knew about his mother, and himself.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781101946619
  • ISBN-10: 110194661X
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publish Date: August 2016
  • Page Count: 640


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Family Life
Books > Fiction > Humorous - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-05-02
  • Reviewer: Staff

Hill’s first novel offers an ironic view of 21st-century elections, education, pop culture, and marketing, with flashbacks to 1988, 1968, and 1944. The action begins in 2011, when Samuel Anderson, an English professor who prefers playing World of Elfquest online to teaching Hamlet to college students, learns that Faye, the mother who abandoned him when he was 11, has been arrested for throwing stones at flamboyant ultraconservative presidential candidate Sheldon Packer. News media repeatedly show Faye’s photo from her young hippie days along with a video of the attack. In an attempt to help his mother and himself, Samuel digs into Faye’s past, focusing on the Iowa town where she grew up and 1968 Chicago, where she unwittingly became caught between protesters and police. Samuel’s search—with assistance from Pwnage, an Elfquest savant—uncovers a judge with a 50-year-old grudge, a grandfather with a 70-year-old secret, and a world where the official story and the truth often diverge. The Nix of Hill’s title is a Norwegian mythological being that carries loved ones away, a physical and metaphorical representation of fear and loss, much like the Under Toad in John Irving’s The World According to Garp. Like Irving, Hill skillfully blends humor and darkness, imagery and observation. He also excels at describing technology, addiction, cultural milestones, and childhood ordeals. Cameos by Allen Ginsberg, Walter Cronkite, and Hubert Humphrey add heart and perspective to this rich, lively take on American social conflict, real and invented, over the last half-century. 100,000-copy announced first printing. Agent: Emily Forland, Brandt & Hochman Literary. (Aug.)

 
BookPage Reviews

A mother-son story marked by American milestones

It is clear that the ideas behind The Nix have been swimming around in first-time novelist Nathan Hill’s head for many years. Deriving its title from the name of a Norwegian spirit that takes people away from the ones they love, this 640-page novel takes on just about everything—including pop culture, advertising, trigger warnings, politics, the degradation of literature, ghosts and the obsession with cell phones. Hill weaves these elements into a charged mother-son story with great poise and humor. 

It’s 2011 and Chicago English professor Samuel Andresen--Anderson learns that his mother, Faye, who abandoned the family when he was 11, has been arrested for throwing gravel at a right-wing presidential candidate. Since he owes his publisher another book, Samuel decides he can help his mother—whom he hasn’t seen since she left—and himself by writing an exposé on the woman behind the most-viewed YouTube clip of the moment.

Samuel visits Faye’s Iowa hometown and the Chicago suburbs, searching for fragments of his mother’s story. Hill explores Faye’s past via many angles: flashbacks to dangerous Chicago protests in 1968, Samuel’s memories and even the point-of-view of Faye’s Parkinson’s-ridden father. In these alternating sections, the reader discovers the details about Faye’s life that Samuel longs for. 

The Nix is a slow burn of a novel that explores the importance of empathy, family dynamics and dysfunction. When Samuel begins to understand his mother, he understands himself. Both laugh-out-loud funny and incredibly poignant, The Nix will be known as a great American novel.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews