The Nix: A novel by Nathan Hill

A hilarious and deeply touching debut novel about a son, the mother who left him, and how his search to uncover the secrets of her life leads him to reclaim his own.

The Nix will be published by Knopf on August 30, 2016. International publication will follow in more than a dozen languages.

Pre-order a copy — Barnes & Noble — Books a Million — Indiebound
or buy from Books & Books, my local South Florida bookstore

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The Story

A Nix can take many forms. In Norwegian mythology, it is a spirit who appears as a white horse that steals children away. In Nathan Hill’s 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 all his own: his mother. Decades ago, when he was a small boy, she abruptly walked out on the family. Now she’s reappeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news and beguiles the internet. She needs Samuel’s help. To save her he’ll have to uncover the secrets of her life, and in so doing perhaps reclaim his own.

Moving from the suburban Midwest to New York City to the 1968 riots that rocked Chicago and beyond, The Nix explores—with both biting, side-splitting humor and fierce tenderness, the resilience of love and home, even in times of radical change.

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Praise for THE NIX

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!!!
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International Editions

UK Edition


Published by Picador
Publication Date: Spring 2017

German Edition


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

French Edition

Published by Gallimard
Translator: tba
Publication Date: Fall 2017

Spanish & Catalan Editions

Published by Salamandra
Translator: tba
Publication Date: tba

Dutch Edition

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

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: tba
Publication Date: tba

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: tba

Korean Edition

Published by Amberlit
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 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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Upcoming Events

Here’s where you can find me. I’ll be posting more events as they’re scheduled.

St. Paul, Minnesota

April 12
Well-Crafted Reading Series
Lake Monster Brewing Tap Room
550 Vandalia St., St. Paul, MN
6:00 pm

April 15
University of St. Thomas Craft Lecture & Reading
McNeely Hall, Room 114
3:00 pm

Chicago, Illinois

May 11–13
BookExpo America Conference
Buzz Panel Selection

Orlando, Florida

June 25–26
American Library Association Conference

Chicago, Illinois

July 13
Grant Park Music Festival
Millennium Park, downtown Chicago
Pre-concert lecture on The Nix & the Bruch Violin Concerto
Concert to follow featuring violinist Rachel Barton Pine playing the Bruch
Lecture at 5:30, Concert at 6:30

Iowa City, Iowa

October 6–9
Iowa City Book Festival

Sanibel Island, Florida

November 3–6
Sanibel Island Writers Conference

Germany, Austria, & Switzerland

November 6–11
Prepublication Tour
Details to be announced