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The Nix by Nathan Hill

HillThe Nix, one of this fall’s most talked about debut novels, has been compared to works by Donna Tartt, Michael Chabon, Tom Wolfe, and John Irving. Other critics have noted Hill’s style to be reminiscent of Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace.

Accolades aside, the book is an engrossing coming of age story as well as a social satire that takes aim at our current political climate, social media, gaming culture, and academia. While doing so, it transports us to the 1960s and depicts Chicago’s Democratic National Convention with its protests and brutal police response.

As a Bildungsroman, The Nix is the story of a son trying to come to terms with his mother’s abandonment as he seeks to understand the mystery surrounding her life. And just like the Norwegian fable of “the Nix,”* most of the main protagonists are deluded by day to day realities and fail to see the danger in living out a fantasy. No one is quite who they seem to be in this captivating novel.

The Nix is a saga that will capture the reader’s empathy and imagination. Characters are three dimensional, and their behavior, though misguided, has deep-seated reasons behind it. The illusions of youth and the untrustworthiness of memory are key themes in this spectacular novel. It is not to be missed.

*The Nix is a spirit of the water—troll-like and ugly. It will appear as a beautiful horse and lure children onto its back for the purpose of drowning them.


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