Reviews for The Nix:

by Nathan Hill

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

When Samuel Andreson--Anderson was growing up, his mother, Faye, drew on folklore related by her Norwegian-born father to tell him about the Nix, a water spirit in the form of a white horse that carries too-trusting children to their deaths. The moral, she explained, is that "the things you love the most will one day hurt you the worst." That proves prophetic, for one day she simply walks out. Now a middling English professor and novelist manqué who seeks escape through endless rounds of Elfquest, Sam learns that the 60ish woman who tossed rocks at a right-wing governor is his mother. He visits her, ostensibly because her lawyer laughably wants him for the defense, more obviously because his fed-up publisher wants him to write a seething best seller about his abandonment, but ultimately and bitterly to learn what happened. She's not forthcoming, but debut novelist Hill certainly is, spinning through nearly 700 pages of addictive, tightly packed prose that chronicles Faye's circumscribed upbringing and risky breakout in 1968 Chicago; young Sam's sustaining relationships with tough friend Bishop and Bishop's beautiful violinist sister, Bethany; and much more. VERDICT Offering engrossing prose, multiple interlocking stories, and deftly drawn characters, Hill shows us how the interlinked consequences of our actions can feel like fate.-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

A giant first novel, hilarious and bitingly political, that combines social and political history of the last 50 years with the poignant story of a damaged woman and her son. Would-be writer Samuel Andresen--Anderson is teaching English at a small college when he learns that his mother, Fay, whom he has not seen since he was 11, has been arrested for throwing gravel at a conservative demagog. Wanting to avoid a lawsuit for not producing a book he had been contracted to write, Samuel reconnects with Fay hoping to use her story to satisfy his publisher. He learns about her month at college in Chicago in 1968, when she joined the hippie movement, met Allen Ginsberg, and then returned to Iowa and her high school boyfriend, whom she married, then later left. Although Hill attempts too much-as if no part of the human experience should be neglected-he writes brilliantly, extending his satire from video gaming to college political correctness, along with capturing Fay and Samuel's fractured relationship. Narrator Ari Fliakos's excellent narration hits just the right touch of irony, especially when portraying one of Samuel's obnoxious students. -VERDICT Listeners seeking a smart and entertaining listening experience will love this book. ["Offering engrossing prose, multiple interlocking stories, and deftly drawn characters, Hill shows us how the interlinked consequences of our actions can feel like fate": LJ 7/16 starred review of the Knopf hc; a 2016 LJ Top Ten Best Book.]-Nancy R. Ives, SUNY Geneseo © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Growing up in a small, watchful Iowa town, Faye endures her brooding Norwegian immigrant father's frightening ghost stories, especially one about a spirit known as the nix, which can haunt a family for eons. This is the kernel from which Hill's accomplished, many-limbed debut novel germinates. Cartwheeling among multiple narrators, it spins the galvanizing stories of three generations derailed in unexpected ways by WWII, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq War. Faye inflicts the chilling tale of the nix on her hypersensitive son, Samuel, and then abandons him and his father. Twenty-three years later, in 2011, Samuel, a failed writer and English professor so disheartened by his cell-phone-addicted students and litigation-phobic administration that he routinely retreats into a multiplayer video game, is dragged back into the real world when his long-estranged mother is arrested for assaulting a right-wing presidential candidate. This precipitates a leap back to 1968 and Faye's wounding experiences during the infamous Democratic convention in Chicago. As more subplots build, including the mesmerizing tale of young Samuel's relationships with twins fearless Bishop and violin prodigy Bethany, Hill takes aim at hypocrisy, greed, misogyny, addiction, and vengeance with edgy humor and deep empathy in a whiplashing mix of literary artistry and compulsive readability. Place Hill's engrossing, skewering, and preternaturally timely tale beside the novels of Tom Wolfe, John Irving, Donna Tartt, and Michael Chabon.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2016 Booklist

Back