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The Nix

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  65,616 ratings  ·  7,841 reviews
A hilarious and deeply touching debut novel about 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.

Meet Samuel Andresen-Anderson: stalled writer, bored teacher at a local college, obsessive player of an online video game. He hasn't seen his mother, Faye, since she walked out when he was a child. B
Hardcover, 640 pages
Published August 30th 2016 by Knopf
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Jan This is a complex tale which covers so much ground. I was mesmerized as well as amazed at how well someone in his 40s painted my growing up era of the…moreThis is a complex tale which covers so much ground. I was mesmerized as well as amazed at how well someone in his 40s painted my growing up era of the late 1960s. I couldn't wait to see what he'd capture next.

I suggest the audiobook. I choose audio for long stories, that way the reader continues through the parts that I may find boring. I like to listen when walking the dog, doing kitchen duty, and driving. The reader for this audiobook is fabulous. Loved the college student and the video game guy. He masters all the characters.

This and The Underground Railroad are my two favorite books of the year (listened to both).

Hope this helps. P.S. I may have enjoyed the book so much since I had been one of those many protesters.(less)

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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  65,616 ratings  ·  7,841 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
Update news.. exciting: Meryl Streep is going to star and produce "The Nix" mini series with JJ Abrams!!!!!

All I knew about "The Nix" before I started reading my 625 page physical book, was the 'few' things I heard, ( "GOOD", "GREAT", "TERRIFIC WRITING", "SIMILAR to JONATHAN FRANZEN"......all of which I agree by the way), but I purposely have not read reviews-yet. I'm tempted to now....but I'll wait -- enjoy what other readers have to say soon.
Not one person told me how incredibly ENJOYABLE the
Will Byrnes
Picking out a quote to open a review of The Nix is no small undertaking. There are so many from which to choose. So I am just tossing this small selection out there up front. Feel free to choose your own opening quote.
”…when all you have is the memory of a thing,” she said, “all you can think about is how the thing is gone.”

The things you love the most will one day hurt you the worst.

…given enough time, any weight can become too much to bear

..despite what the newspapers said, it was not the
Brian Michels
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm not a huge fan of long novels. This one, however, was without a doubt worth the time.

Mother and son over the long haul, Faye and Samuel - a great unfolding and refolding of their relationship. Seriously talented storytelling at play here. Samuel, an oddly compelling and sympathetic character, a teacher struggling to get his act together. Faye, a woman somewhat off the wall for decades for good reasons and bad, an agent of cultural change with vexed measure of responsibility. There are a numb
Cynthia Shannon
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Guys: I know it's early but I'm going to proclaim this the best book I've read this year. I'm not kidding. I was sucked into this book from the first few pages, and couldn't put it down (at 600 pages, it was quite the arm exercise). Characters are all believably flawed without being dumb, the storyline makes sense, it all gets wrapped up at the end but leaves some questions unanswered (so we can talk about them in book club, weee!). The writing is superb. Lots of different styles, which normall ...more
Matthew Quann

The Nix is exactly the type of novel I dread reviewing: one that has many good moments, some truly great moments, but is a letdown most consistently.

Though my background is in science and medicine, my heart will always be with the written word. I may not have an extensive academic background in literature, but I do try and make up for it with an avid reading habit, dipping my toes into various styles and genres. So, although I might not be the foremost authority, I think I can pick the g
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Update: This book deserves five stars. It's fantastic. Read it. Ignore the math below.

Well, Goodreaders, remember that time over the summer when I cheated on my library and found a smaller, closer library in a nearby town? Yeah, that's still going on. See my review of The Green Mile for more details, but things are going very well between us. So far I've picked up The Green Mile, Rabbit Run, and The Nix from this new library of mine, and those three books are some of my favorite reads of the ye
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a smart and terrific novel that packs one hell of a punch. It is a sprawling and intricate puzzle that goes back and forth in time to eventually make sense. It is a satire of the politics and media with timely observations and insights of the state of the nation captured in a clever and astute manner. There is the dissection of the lives of Sam, his mother, Faye and other characters. The eponymous Nix is Norwegian in origin, a metaphor, a tricky house spirit/ghost/white horse that is eas ...more
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
First off, a confession. I took a quick look at Nathan Hill’s photo and immediately thought: young guy, kind of a bro, probably pretty full of himself. And when I learned this was his first novel – a long one at that – I figured on narrative sprawl and other excesses. Would he be judicious enough to drop weaker scenes? Could he bear eliminating superfluous modifiers? Would every perceived insight seem indispensable? But the book was producing a buzz, one Santa figured would suit me. I’m glad. It ...more
Jennifer Masterson
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, audio
I listened to the audio version of The Nix. Right now I'm at 4 stars but if the novel sticks with me I might bump it up to 4 1/2. This is a great audiobook but not a perfect book. I know people are comparing this to The Goldfinch, and I get that, but I don't think the writing was as sophisticated as Tartt's book.

It took me two tries with this novel. I will say that if you are going to read or listen to it, make the time for no long stretch stops. That's what I did the first time and I couldn't
Andrew Smith
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I’d glanced at ratings for this book - uniformly four or five stars from my book reading friends - and had read enough of the accompanying commentaries to know that this was a big book, at over 600 pages, covering a lump of time from the late 1960’s onward. I’d also gleaned that it was a family saga, with some political history thrown in for good measure. All good so far. What I’d no doubt have discovered if I’d dug a little deeper is that this book is brilliantly written in a style that reminde ...more
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Professor of English Samuel Andreson-Anderson's mother abandoned him when he was 11 years old – it has become an event that will continue to mark all of his days.

It had never occurred to him before that he could not stop. Everyone stopped. But in the face of his mother’s goneness, all the world’s normal rules fell away. If she could leave, why couldn’t he? So he did. He walked away and was surprised how easy it was. He walked along the sidewalk, didn’t even attempt to run or hide. He walked in
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Seeing ourselves clearly is the project of a lifetime."
- Nathan Hill, The Nix

Even though I don’t read a ton of contemporary fiction, I do a pretty good job of knowing what’s out there. In fact, I spend roughly as much time reading about reading as I do actually reading. And I have the sagging bookshelves of yet-to-be-read titles to prove it. Based on what I’d read about Nathan Hill’s The Nix, I had a single thought: nope. Everything about it is everything I don’t like in literature.

A lengthy n
Amalia Gkavea
''Αnd he used the ghost stories his mother told him, all those old Norwegian stories that terrified him. He wrote about a white horse that appeared suddenly, offering a ride, and if the reader decided to mount the horse, terrible death quickly followed. In another ending, the reader becomes a ghost trapped inside of a leaf, too bad to go to heaven, too good to go to hell.''

Samuel is a quiet, charismatic young professor, condemned to teach the beautiful subject of Literature to an audience of
Theresa Alan
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. It has been a long time since a novel has blown my mind. The writing in this book is astonishingly, staggeringly good. Plus, I chuckled out loud throughout the story. It's funny and a little sad, both. Part of the sad part was being reminded of how women and protesters were treated in 60s, not that everything has changed by any stretch of the imagination.

Samuel deals with cheating, apathetic students at the university where he teaches intro to lit to pay the mortgage, but to escape reality
Aug 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Maxwell by: Amerie
Shelves: owned
I went into The Nix with absolutely no preconceptions. It was recommended to me by my friend Ameriie, with whom I share a pretty similar reading taste. So I got my hands on a copy, and the rest is history.

What Nathan Hill is able to accomplish in this novel—please note that this is his debut novel!—is something many strive for and fall short of. It's a sweeping story of family, love (romantic and platonic), betrayal, debts, and abandonment. It covers decades and a multitude of characters and fli
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Sometimes we're so wrapped up in our own story that we don't see how we're supporting characters in someone else's."

4 Stars for storytelling
3 Stars for plot

Rounding to 4 because I enjoyed the experience.

The story and the writing in this book were very entertaining. I was enthralled the entire way through. The style changed from time to time which was interesting and showed the skill of the author.

I heard some commentary about this book saying that it is a bit dark and cynical which can make it
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I don't know if everyone will find this book as funny as I did. But to me, scenes were laugh out loud funny. When Laura gives all her excuses she shouldn't be failed for turning in a 99% plagiarized paper, I was beside myself. Professor Sam Anderson is a grammar nerd, so I immediately bonded with him, other than all the crying. Stuck teaching English literature to kids that don't care at a second rate college, he finds enjoyment playing online Elfin war games.

The story veers between 2011 when S
Richard (on hiatus)
I love books like The Nix!
Big contemporary novels (often American) bursting with incident, incisively drawn characters, myriad relationships, contentious politics and a mysterious, slowly revealed story that brings it all together.
The Nix is very funny, very moving, snappy and fizzing with ideas.
Much of this novel is set in the present but with large sections set in the 80s and earlier, particularly 1968 a year in America typified by free love, hippies, student demonstrations and Vietnam.
Emily May
Oct 19, 2016 rated it liked it
The Nix is made up of many good parts, some very funny even, but most of them never come together. There were whole chapters of this doorstopper that felt like unnecessary padding.

The central story - about a bored college teacher who is commissioned to write a book about the mother he hasn't seen for years - is diluted by hundreds of tangents that wander off in all directions, spending far too much time on inconsequential anecdotes and subplots from Samuel's childhood, as well as side stories ab
Ron Charles
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-favorites
Nathan Hill’s whirling debut novel, “The Nix,” blasts off with an assault on Gov. Sheldon Packer, a fire-breathing, anti-immigrant presidential candidate who may remind you of a certain reality-TV star with size anxiety. A video clip shot by some modern-day Zapruder shows a middle-aged woman shouting, “You pig!” and throwing something at Packer, who, by the grace of God, survives. (The “weapon” was just a handful of gravel, but still!) In the breathless coverage that consumes the nation, the wou ...more
Joe Valdez
Jun 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
My introduction to the fiction of Nathan Hill is his debut novel The Nix, a Great American Novel that at 620 pages, is a boat anchor. I came up for air and dropped it at 320 pages. Published in 2016, this literary epic is about a lot, mostly a reconciliation between a failed novelist named Samuel Andersen-Anderson and his mother Faye, who walked out on him and his father thirty years ago. Faye resurfaces during her fifteen minutes of fame chucking pebbles at a hardline governor running for presi ...more
Oct 28, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a Big Bold Debut Novel that I thought was OK, but I didn't love it. At one point I was so frustrated with this book that I abandoned it.* Later I trudged back and decided to finish.

The story is 600+ pages worth of complications. Samuel is a struggling writer and college professor. He is estranged from his mother, Faye, who gets caught in a media storm when she's videotaped throwing rocks at a political event. Samuel is offered a chance to salvage his book contract by writing a story abou
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of two lives. A son and his mother. The thing is they hardly know one another. Samuel hasn’t seen his mother for over 20 years, when she walked out the door one day in 1988, before his eleventh birthday. Despite that they are very much the same person. Shaped by circumstance and choice. Damaged by a similar childhood experience and tied by genes which exhibit a very similar vulnerability.

Strangely enough, it is the throwing of rocks at a governor, soon-to-be presidential candid
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2017
I feel as though I just read three completely separate novels somewhat awkwardly combined into one 600+ page tome:

* The Faye Novel featuring Henry, Frank, Sebastian, Alice and Charles Brown (the most problematic with broadly drawn, cartoony characters and unlikely plot resolutions)
* The Samuel/Bishop/Bethany Novel (my favorite)
* The Social Commentary Novel, featuring Pwnage, Alan Ginsburg, Walter Cronkite, Guy Periwinkle, Governor Sheldon Packer, Laura Pottsdam et al (the most fun)

All of the sto
Campbell Andrews
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 06, 2016 marked it as abandoned
Recommended to Emily by: Cynthia Shannon
Shelves: arc, literary-fiction
Abandoned around page 240. I think this book will receive rave reviews - it already has from many readers with great taste, including Cynthia! - but I just couldn't get into it. It reads like a cross between Franzen and The Art of Fielding , a book that I found so pleasantly inoffensive and forgettable that I had to Google its title last week. If you enjoy contemporary fiction that attempts to Say Something About America in the most sweeping, arch, I-got-my-MFA-and-live-in-Brooklyn way, then I t ...more
Helene Jeppesen
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Throughout most of this book, I was determined that it was a 5-star-read. It's a story that contains several very interesting characters, and it shifts between different time periods and situations. It was written in a language that is easy to get through so that you easily read through its 700 pages. Last but not least, I loved how it was so unpredictable and entertaining which I find necessary qualities in a book this size.
However, as I got closer to the ending the story started to unravel an
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
a fusillade of Far Out, man! A superb novel. Finally, a book that lives up to the pre-pub hype. Review to follow.

I loved this book!
May 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: published-2016
“Sometimes we’re so wrapped up in our own story that we don’t see how we’re supporting characters in someone else’s.”

The Nix runs with the idea of a failed writer/ English professor whose quest is to solve the puzzle of why his mother left him when he was a young boy. He hasn’t seen her since he was eleven when she suddenly becomes a media sensation after being caught on film throwing stones at a Republican presidential candidate.

In a nutshell, the first two hundred pages were great. A scene wh
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

I'll be the first to admit that I agree with some of the plaints of this novel's detractors and dissectors: Nathan Hill's often-precocious writing style (trying really hard to emulate Franzen and DF Wallace); blatant audience pandering (trying to please the gamut of readers from YA-friendlies and gaming nerds to (recent) history-philes and magical realists); and a tendency to meander down myriad and inconsequential plot threads and stray from the important ones. Yet, despite its flaws,
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Nathan Hill's short fiction has 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 lives with his wife in Naples, Florida. THE NIX is his first novel.

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“Seeing ourselves clearly is the project of a lifetime.” 140 likes
“The flip side of being a person who never fails at anything is that you never do anything you could fail at. You never do anything risky. There’s a certain essential lack of courage among people who seem to be good at everything.” 90 likes
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