The Nix

4.23 based on 1934 ratings & 447 reviews on

Meet Samuel: stalled writer, bored teacher at a local college, obsessive player of online video games. He hasn't seen his mother, Faye, in decades, not since she abandoned her family when he was a boy. Now she has suddenly reappeared, having committed an absurd politically motivated crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the Internet, and inflames a divided America. 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.

As Samuel begins to excavate his mother's - and his country's - history, the story moves from the rural Midwest of the 1960s, to New York City during Occupy Wall Street, back to Chicago in 1968 and, finally, to wartime Norway, home of the mysterious Nix. Samuel will unexpectedly find that he has to rethink everything he ever knew about his mother - a woman with an epic story of her own, a story she has kept hidden from the world.

There is an accidental topicality in Hill's debut, about an estranged mother and son whose fates hinge on two mirror-image political events - the Democratic Convention of 1968 and the Republican Convention of 2004. But beyond that hook lies a high-risk, high-reward playfulness with structure and tone: comic set pieces, digressions into myth, and formal larks that call to mind Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad.
New York Magazine
Hill skillfully blends humor and darkness, imagery and observation. He also excels at describing technology, addition, cultural milestones, and childhood ordeals. Cameos by [the famous] add heart and perspective to this rich, lively take on American social conflict, real and invented, over the last half-century.
Publishers' Weekly, starred and boxed review
A grand entertainment, smart and well-paced, and a book that promises good work to come.
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

About Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill's short stories have appeared in many literary journals, including The Iowa Review, AGNI, The Gettysburg Review, and Fiction, where he was awarded the annual Fiction Prize. A native Iowan, he now lives with his wife in Naples, Florida. The Nix is his first novel.

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