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The Nix Hardcover – 26 Jan 2017

4.0 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Man Booker International Prize 2017
A Horse Walks Into a Bar has won the Man Booker International Prize 2017. Learn more
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Main Market Ed. edition (26 Jan. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1509807837
  • ISBN-13: 978-1509807833
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 4.3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Alarmingly good . . . both a Great American Novel as well as a great American novel... aches with all-new relevance. (Guardian)

A superb debut novel . . . could well be the most ambitious novel of the year... It seems like Hill is a writer who can do pretty much what he wants. (Daily Telegraph)

Compulsive and crazily entertaining (Anthony Quinn Observer)

Impressive that a debutant, Nathan Hill, with his scintillating The Nix has given us a character who comes close to out-Trumping Trump . . . Just one of the many pleasures of this engaging story of a mother and son whose private travails become front-page news. (New Year Highlights Observer)

The best thing a reviewer can do when faced with a novel of this calibre and breadth is to urge you to read it for yourselves – especially if your taste is for deeply engaged and engaging contemporary American prose fiction of real quality and verve. (Ed Docx Guardian)

The best new writer of fiction in America. The best. (John Irving)

We're in the presence of a major new comic novelist . . . a brilliant, endearing writer . . . Readers . . . will be dazzled. (Washington Post)

I got a big kick out of Nathan Hill's impressive first novel, The Nix (Picador), out in the UK next year. Hill's zeitgeisty portrayals of video game addiction and customer-oriented university education are brilliant. (Lionel Shriver, 'Books of the Year 2016' Observer)

Hill has so much talent to burn that he can pull off just about any style, imagine himself into any person and convincingly portray any place or time. The Nix is hugely entertaining and unfailingly smart, and the author seems incapable of writing a pedestrian sentence or spinning a boring story (New York Times Book Review)

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)

It broke my heart, this book. Time after time. It made me laugh just as often. I loved it on the first page as powerfully as I did on the last . . . Nathan Hill? . . . He's gonna be famous. (National Public Radio)

Nathan Hill Is Compared to John Irving. Irving Compares Him to Dickens. (New York Times)

This is a book to get one excited not only about Hill and his future as a novelist, but also about the power of writing to blot out background-noise banality and vault us forward into the new and wondrous. (San Francisco Chronicle)

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)

This guy has chops (Jay McInerney)

A great sprawling feast of a first novel . . . both darkly satirical and uproariously funny . . . Hill writes with an astonishingly sure hand for a young author . . . Let's just call him the real thing. (Newsday)

Dazzling . . . rich and multilayered . . . the debut of an important new writer, able to variously make readers laugh out loud while providing a melancholy, resonant tale that argues "there is no greater ache than this: guilt and regret in equal measure." (USA Today)

The Nix is a timely mass-media and political satire, a family saga and two bildungsromans rolled into one ? and, in each facet, Nathan Hill crafts a hilarious, observant, unputdownable tale. (Huffington Post)

By turns, wickedly funny, shockingly wise, touching and thought-provoking . . . a rich buffet of a novel. (Toronto Star)

A fantastic novel about love, betrayal, politics and pop culture - as good as the best Michael Chabon or Jonathan Franzen. (People)

A stunning debut . . . the first book I’ve read in two decades that earns the title Great American Novel. (Liesl Schillinger, 'What’s the Best Book, New or Old, You Read This Year?' New York Times)

Not only dramatising America’s great tussle between minority interests and Midwestern grievances, [The Nix] even features a rogue presidential candidate who talks about immigrants as though they are coyotes damaging crops . . . But it’s the human drama of a relationship between a son and his mother (too busy protesting in the Sixties to bring him up) that will keep you hooked while you think. (GQ)

This self-assured, sprawling debut is about the relationship between a college professor and his mother. It's a dense, satirical piece of fiction which offers commentary on the American history and modern technology. This novel is more relevant than ever in these tech-crazed times of mass media and political turmoil. With J.J. Abrams adapting it for a miniseries starring none other than Meryl Streep, The Nix is definitely one of the highlights of 2017 (Wales Arts Review)

[A] rich, absorbing saga that [is] so complex and brilliant [it] will stay with you long after you've turned the last page. (Stylist)

Book Description

The instant New York Times No. 5 bestseller, a gloriously ambitious, witty and deeply touching debut novel of fifty years of America and of American radical protest, the story of a son, the mother who left him as a child, and how his search to uncover the secrets of her life leads him to reclaim his own.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Roman Clodia TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Feb. 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
Hyped and hyper-active, smart and yet somehow anticlimactic, this is a book which is frustrating and fun in equal measures. Hill can write - boy, can he write,,, and write and write till I wanted to scream at him to just stop, I've got it, now move on. This is a 600+ page novel with a story that doesn't really fill in. Cut out the endless meanderings on orc-killing computer games, on the inanities of a girl student and other sidelines and we'd have a tauter book. Get rid of the ridiculous coincidences and the 'I planned this whole thing' revelation and we'd have a more significant one. And yet, for all my fault-finding, this is still a book worth reading.

Hill's sense of the absurd makes this sharp in places and fun, even if his targets (modern media, politics and politicians) are hardly original. And while his overall message ('Seeing ourselves clearly is the project of a lifetime') is hardly more than cliché, he involves us in what is, at heart, an epic family chronicle.

This is a book where the parts are greater than the whole: the scenes with Bishop in Iraq, for example, are brilliant with more than a touch of the madness of Catch-22 (the camel-shooting scene is inspired), but the repetition of motifs such as the way so many men are hung-up on, and screwed-up by, elusive women is too ponderous.

Overall, then, this is a book with huge potential which needs a firm editorial hand to cut the self-indulgence and bring out the wayward humour and insight. There's probably enough material here for about five novels all crammed into one messy and overflowing book. So Hill is an author to watch, but he needs more honing of his tradecraft.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very well written, very nice constructed, well documented, with a lot of insight.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is right here and now culture. Makes me laugh inside. I am 50 and I live in this world! Haven't finished it yet.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
excellent many thanks
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Format: Kindle Edition
I have mixed feelings about this book. It feels like the author asks some big questions but shies away from answering them.

The Nix is the story of Samuel, an English professor and failed author in Chicago whose mother abandoned him when he was eleven. He doesn’t see her again until she’s on cable TV, after she throws stones at a right-wing Republican and gets arrested. When they are brought together (via her solicitor) Samuel sets out to find out the truth about her life, about why she left him and what she’s done since, while also going back into his own memories.

This novel has that serious-American-white-male author thing of combining a personal story and lots of zeitgeisty references and a bit of state of the nation stuff. I initially thought it was like a nicer Jonathan Franzen, then later I thought it was a more sentimental John Irving. It has Big Themes that almost have arrows pointing to them in case you miss them (like the way the adult Samuel devotes his leisure time to computer games while back in his childhood his best friend informs him that life is just a game).

The Nix is made up of a number of points of view over varying time periods, going back through three generations of Samuel’s family. These take you from Europe to Iowa to Chicago, including a long section about the 1968 riots (cue resonances with today’s political turmoil). Some of these feel like they may have been written as standalone pieces and stitched together later. It feels like the work of a young writer finding his way, so I was surprised to learn that Nathan Hill is 40.

There’s a certain amount of repetition and there were long passages where I had that, ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ feeling.
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Format: Hardcover
I won't be writing a review, there are many here, make up your mind about the quality of the book. I really liked it, though maybe it could be a bit shorter.
I don't understand one thing. Faye goes to pick up Margaret's order, which is a really important event since it starts Faye's adult life, this has already been paid for. If Margaret placed the order on the phone, how did she pay for it? I don't understand how this could be done without her father, the pharmacist, knowing.
Any ideas?
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By SueKich TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Dec. 2016
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
According to Samuel’s dour Norwegian grandfather, the Nix is a fabled horse. Any child brave enough to mount it will be exhilarated by the steed’s ever-increasing speed but ultimately led to a fatal cliff-top descent. The moral of the grandfather’s fable: “Don’t trust things that are too good to be true”. Samuel’s mother is departing the family home incrementally, removing things bit by bit until she disappears altogether from Samuel’s life, not to be seen again for two decades. Before she leaves she tells her son the tale of the Nix but she interprets it in a different way: “The things you love the most will one day hurt you the most.”

A gloomy air of pessimism hangs over this initially impressive but ultimately somewhat downbeat debut novel. At the opening of the story Samuel is a failed author, now an English Lit small-town college professor and secretly an avid player of a computer game called Elfscape. The narrative flashes back to his childhood when he was an habitual (or, as the author would have it, “habituated”) cry baby. Samuel ranks his crying on a scale of one to five, from eyes welling up to outright wailing. Over a distance of 600+ pages, such an ineffectual hero offers the reader little to warm to.

Indeed, most of Hill’s characters are a pretty bleak and unappealing bunch. Samuel’s damaged mother Faye, his addicted gamer pal Pwnage, rebellious childhood friend Bishop and his sister Bethany - a virtuoso violinist who Samuel falls for, political activist Alice, despicable cop turned judge Charlie Brown, college student cheat Laura Pottsdam. The only upbeat character is Guy Periwinkle, a spinmeister who brings a welcome note of satirical humour to the proceedings.
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