Blurb from Goodreads
‘The best new writer of fiction in America. The best.’ – John Irving
Nathan Hill’s brilliant debut takes the reader from the rural Midwest of the 1960s, to New York City during Occupy Wall Street; from Chicago in 1968, to wartime Norway: home of the mysterious Nix.
Meet Samuel: stalled writer, bored teacher at a local college, obsessive player of online video games. He hasn’t seen his mother, Faye, in decades, not since she abandoned her family when he was a boy. Now she has suddenly reappeared, having committed an absurd politically motivated crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the Internet, and inflames a divided America. 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.
As Samuel begins to excavate his mother’s – and his country’s – history, he will unexpectedly find that he has to rethink everything he ever knew about her – a woman with an epic story of her own, a story she has kept hidden from the world.
“The things you love the most will one day hurt you the worst.”
The Nix was a great big sprawling mess of a book. And I mean that in the most glorious way possible. Life is messy and never straightforward, and that idea is echoed within these pages. It was simply beautiful. And I was enthralled by every word.
The story follows a man’s search for the truth about his mother’s past and as a result becomes a tale of self-discovery. But that description is much too simplistic. Plots are delicately interwoven and the storyline meanders back and forth through time slowly revealing the secrets of the past to the reader. To me this was a real page-turner.
Samuel, the lead character, is merely existing rather than living. Everything about his life is uninspiring to him and he feels very much like a failure. Certain events occur that cause him to explore his past and to once and for all discover what it was that caused his mother to leave him as a young child.
I loved the writing style of the author. The characters felt real and tangible when they were supposed to be, and conversely mysterious and ethereal when that was required by the story. I really liked the characters of Samuel and his mother Faye. They both had elements of the ridiculous about them but ultimately were incredibly human in their actions.The different time periods in which the novel was set fully came alive in their own unique way and everything somehow felt believable. I especially loved the references made to Nordic folklore and ghost stories from which the title of the book is taken.
Definitely a book that I would recommend if you like things a little messy. Life is more interesting when it’s less ordered and doesn’t go according to plan don’t you think?
“People love each other for many reasons, not all of them good. They love each other because it’s easy. Or because they’re used to it. Or because they’ve given up. Or because they’re scared. People can be a Nix for each other.”
A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Read: January 14th, 2017
Published: January 26th, 2017