Review: The Nix by Nathan Hill

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The Nix by Nathan Hill is seriously funny. The novel follows a son’s attempt to learn about his mother’s hidden past – a journey which leads him to realize his mother, and his grandfather, both harbored secrets about mistakes they’d made early in their lives. While the novel follows the son Samuel’s quest, Hill also takes us back to his mother’s early years so we can view her accidental happenings from 1968, when she was caught up in the Chicago protests.

Hill’s prose is laugh out loud funny throughout the novel, though his descriptions can be a little long-winded. He really writes his character’s into absurd predicaments in which they can’t always extricate themselves. The cast of characters from modern times, a college student in Samuel’s class and a fellow video gamer, were great vehicles for espousing satirical commentary on modern day society.

The chapters reflecting the sixties counter-culture and his mother’s entanglements with a conning high school classmate before her brief escape to Chicago, showed a world where things aren’t always what we think they are. At times, I cringed for the young mother who was obviously being taken for a ride at times, yet I empathized with her also.

I enjoyed how the novel bounced around. Some of the connections between characters didn’t always work for me, but I was having fun so I stuck with it. Nathan Hill writes with an uncanny sense of humor, particularly about characters inflicted with such modern day ills such as video game addiction, narcissism and consumerism.

If you like laugh out loud funny in your novels, I recommend The Nix by Nathan Hill.


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