'The Nix' by Nathan Hill: EW Review
Nathan hill’s sad, funny, endlessly inven- tive debut feels like exactly the kind of novel Septembers are made for: a big fat cinder block of a book brainy enough to wipe away the last SPF-smeared vestiges of a lazy summer but so immediately engaging, too, that it makes the transition feel like a reward, not homework.
The nominal hero of The Nix is Samuel Andresen-Anderson, a one-time literary wunderkind–turned–indifferent English professor haunted by his mother’s long-ago abandonment—and unceremoniously reunited with her when she suddenly attacks a right-wing politician in a local park. Samuel’s story, though, is really only one thread of many in a cat’s cradle of interconnected plotlines that loop and twist from WWII-era Norway to the 1968 DNC riots in Chicago, Midwestern ’80s suburbia, post-9/11 New York, and even the sunbaked battlefields of Iraq. At 600-plus pages, some of those threads inevitably snag or run on too long, but Hill weaves it all into the wild tragicomic tangle of his imagination.