Nominated by:

Toronto Public Library, Canada

Iowa City Public Library, USA

Free Library of Philadelphia, USA

Richmond Public Library, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

Alfred A. Knopf, USA

The Nix

Nathan Hill    

It’s 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson hasn’t seen his mother, Faye, in decades—not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she’s reappeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news 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.

About the author

Nathan Hill’s short fiction has appeared in many literary journals, including The Iowa Review, AGNI, The Gettysburg Review, and Fiction, which awarded him its annual Fiction Prize. A native Iowan, he lives with his wife in Naples, Florida.

(from publisher)

Librarians’ comments

Nathan Hill’s audacious and panoramic debut is the sweeping story of the last half century of American history and pop culture told through the lives of three generations of a mid-western family. Juggling multiple storylines and narrators, The Nix is a hugely entertaining, compulsively readable, smartly observed, sparklingly written novel that manages to be simultaneously edgy and deeply empathetic.

One of the more popular books of the last year for Iowa City Public Library cardholders, a native Iowan, and his appearance at the 2017 Iowa City Book Festival helped him locally as well.

Inventive, comic, highly entertaining – a brilliant first novel.

Released several months before our “incredible” US presidential election, The Nix presents a political history of Chicago politics from the 1940s to current day with both humor and appropriate darkness. A loaded novel in terms of both plots and characters, The Nix follows Samuel Anderson, an English professor who prefers playing a specific video game, from a time when he is told his mother, Faye, who deserted him as a child, has been arrested for throwing rocks at an extremely conservative presidential candidate. Faye’s life, and eventually Samuel’s, become intertwined in flashbacks, before the reader views certain parallel circumstances between mother and son, reality and fantasy,  politics and daily life. Nathan Hill manages to weave historical and cultural details together in The Nix, to present an accurate portrait of not only US politics, but a global study of what make politicians and their non-followers tick and compete.

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