The Nix: A novel by Nathan Hill


“The Nix is a mother-son psychodrama with ghosts and politics, but it’s also a tragicomedy about anger and sanctimony in America.…Nathan Hill is a maestro”
—John Irving

“Once in a while a novel arrives at the perfect moment to reflect, skewer, and provide context for the world as we know it. This—now—is that novel.”
—Christina Baker Kline

Buy a copy — Barnes & Noble — Books a Million — iBooks — Indiebound — Powell’s
or buy from Books & Books, my local South Florida bookstore

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Praise for THE NIX

Book of the Month Selections

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This looks to be the debut of an important new writer, able to variously make readers laugh out loud while providing a melancholy, resonant tale.

USA Today

Hill writes with an astonishingly sure hand for a young author. He burrows deep inside the heads of old people and young, soldiers and protesters, men and women.…[He’s] the real thing.


The Nix will go down as one of the best debut books of the year.

Dallas Morning News

The Nix is a sprawling novel, but in the best way. It creates a world that, despite its characters’ foibles and imperfections, readers will delight to inhabit.


Ambitious and unendingly funny throughout.


Wickedly funny, shockingly wise, touching and thought-provoking.

Toronto Star

[A] sparkling, sweeping debut novel that takes in a large swath of recent American history and pop culture and turns them on their sides.… A grand entertainment.

—Kirkus, starred review

A whiplashing mix of literary artistry and compulsive readability. Place Hill’s engrossing, skewering, and preternaturally timely tale beside the novels of Tom Wolfe, John Irving, Donna Tartt, and Michael Chabon.

—Booklist, starred review

[A] rich, lively take on American social conflict, real and invented, over the last half-century.

—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Best of the Season Selections

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“Nathan Hill Is Compared to John Irving. Irving Compares Him to Dickens”
Profile in The New York Times

“If you lose everything you’ve written, start a new novel”
Interview with Minnesota Public Radio

“Talking to the Author of The Nix, Fall’s Splashiest Debut Novel”
Q&A with New York Magazine

“Nathan Hill’s debut novel digs deep into a mother-son relationship”
Interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“Interview with Nathan Hill”
Episode of the Professional Book Nerds Podcast

Praise from Authors

The Nix is a mother-son psychodrama with ghosts and politics, but it’s also a tragicomedy about anger and sanctimony in America. Even the minor characters go to extremes—among them, a Home Ec teacher from Hell and an unrepentant plagiarist with presidential aspirations. ‘A maestro of being awful,’ the son calls his mom. ‘Every memory is really a scar,’ she tells him. For this mother and son, disappointment is ‘the price of hope’—a cost they will both bear. Nathan Hill is a maestro of being terrific.

—John Irving, author of 14 novels, including The World According to Garp, The Cider House Rules, and Avenue of Mysteries

Nathan Hill’s The Nix is a huge, intimate, funny, beautifully intelligent novel — one of those books that almost seems to be alive:  you open it up and are pulled within, and you live in the heartbeat of its pages, day after day.  This is a lovely, smart, surprising read.

—Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members, winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor

Pay attention. This is what a Great American Novel looks like. The Nix is culturally relevant, politically charged, historically sweeping, sad, full of yearning, sometimes dark but mostly hilarious. Nathan Hill is a literary powerhouse who will deservedly earn many comparisons to John Irving and Jonathan Franzen.

—Benjamin Percy, author of The Dead Lands, Red Moon, The Wilding and Refresh, Refresh

Ix-nay all plans and grab a copy of The Nix! Nathan Hill’s novel is smart, inventive, and fun, as you might expect of a book that features a slew of elves and the 1968 Democratic Convention. I will read it again; I will keep it on my shelf of favorites, feed it sugar water, and hope it miraculously grows longer. Do you understand? The Nix is dead serious and delightful.

—Sara Levine, author of Treasure Island!!!

Once in a while a novel arrives at the perfect moment to reflect, skewer, and provide context for the world as we know it. This—now—is that novel. A satirical, fast-paced romp through time and space, The Nix is ambitious, wide-ranging, and full of surprises. It gathers force and momentum as it speeds toward the end, where all of its pieces fit together as precisely as a puzzle.

—Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train

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The Story

A Nix can take many forms. In Norwegian folklore, it is a spirit who sometimes appears as a white horse that steals children away. In Nathan Hill’s remarkable first novel, a Nix is anything you love that one day disappears, taking with it a piece of your heart.

It’s 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson—college professor, stalled writer—has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn’t seen her 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, beguiles the internet, 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 take him across generations and countries, and stretch all the way back to Norway, the original home of the mysterious Nix. In doing so, Samuel will not only confront Faye’s losses, but also his own lost love, and relearn everything he thought he knew about his mother, and himself.

From the suburban Midwest to New York City to the 1968 riots that rocked Chicago, and beyond, The Nix explores—with sharp humor and a fierce tenderness—the resilience of love and home, even in times of radical change

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International Editions

UK Edition


Published by Picador
Publication Date: January 2017

German Edition


Published by Piper Verlag
Translated by Werner Löcher-Lawrence
Publication Date: Fall 2016

Dutch Edition


Published by De Besige Bij
Translator: Dennis Keesmaat
Publication Date: Fall 2016

French Edition

Published by Gallimard
Translator: Mathilde Bach
Publication Date: tba

Spanish & Catalan Editions

Published by Salamandra
Translator: tba
Publication Date: tba

Danish Edition

Published by Lindhardt & Ringhof
Translated by Karsten Nielsen
Publication Date: tba

Swedish Edition

Published by Brombergs
Translator: tba
Publication Date: tba

Norwegian Edition

Published by Gyldendal Norsk
Translator: Vibeke Saugestad
Publication Date: Spring 2017

Italian Edition

Published by Rizzoli
Translator: tba
Publication Date: Spring 2017

Finnish Edition

Published by Gummerus
Translator: tba
Publication Date: Fall 2017

Hebrew Edition

Published by Kinneret
Translator: tba
Publication Date: tba

Hungarian Edition

Published by Libri Kiado
Translator: tba
Publication Date: Fall 2017

Korean Edition

Published by Amberlit
Translator: tba
Publication Date: tba

Polish Edition

Published by Znak
Translator: tba
Publication Date: tba

Chinese Edition

Published by Imaginist
Translator: tba
Publication Date: tba

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My short stories have appeared in The Iowa Review, AGNI, Gulf Coast, The Denver Quarterly, Fugue, The Gettysburg Review, and many other journals. I was the winner of the annual Fiction Prize from the journal Fiction for my story “The Bottle.” The Iowa Review nominated my story “SuperAngel” for a Pushcart Prize. I was also a finalist for the Donald Barthelme Prize in Short Prose, and I’m the recipient of an Artist Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.


I’m a native Iowan, but I grew up all over the Midwest: Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas. I’ve lived in New England and New York and the Twin Cities and Chicago, but I’ve since fled to a warmer climate: I now make my home in Naples, Florida.


I am Associate Professor of English at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where I’ve taught creative writing & literature courses. I’m currently on leave from St. Thomas in order to focus exclusively on writing for a while. I hold a BA in English and Journalism from the University of Iowa and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Other Work

Before joining the faculty at St. Thomas, I taught writing at Florida Gulf Coast University. Before that, I worked at the Academy of American Poets, editing and designing the website Before that, I worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist.


You can find me on Goodreads, where I keep a Nix-related blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter, under the username @nathanreads. Fair warning: I’ve typically used Twitter only to record interesting things I read online. I’m generally better at 1.5 million characters than I am at 140.

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New York City

September 6
7 pm


September 7
Harvard Bookstore
7 pm

Concord, New Hampshire

September 8
Gibson’s Bookstore
7 pm

St. Paul, Minnesota

September 12
Common Good Books
7 pm

Ann Arbor, Michigan

September 13
Literati Bookstore
7 pm


September 15
The Book Cellar
7 pm

Tampa, Florida

September 18
The Oxford Exchange
1:30 pm

Naples, Florida

September 19
Barnes & Noble Waterside
7 pm

Jackson, Mississippi

September 21
Lemuria Bookstore
5 pm

Oxford, Mississippi

September 22
Square Books
6 pm


October 6
In conversation with John Irving
Harbourfront, Lakeside Terrace
Details to come

Iowa City

October 8
Iowa City Book Festival
Details to come

Northfield, Minnesota

October 10
Content Bookstore
7:00 pm

St. Paul, Minnesota

October 11
University of St. Thomas
O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library, Room 108
7:30 pm

Minneapolis, Minnesota

October 12
Magers & Quinn Booksellers
7:00 pm

Lawrence, Kansas

October 24
Lawrence Public Library
7:30 pm

Wichita, Kansas

October 25
Watermark Books
6 pm

Kansas City

October 26
Rainy Day Books
Details to come

Wilmette, Illinois

October 27
Wilmette Public Library
7 pm

Sanibel Island, Florida

November 3–4
Sanibel Island Writers Conference


November 7
Details to come


November 8
Details to come


November 9
Details to come


November 10
Details to come


November 14-18
Details to come


November 20
Miami Book Fair
Details to come

Fort Myers, Florida

December 6
Lee County Alliance for the Arts
Details to come

March 18
Southwest Florida Reading Festival