You are going to see The Nix by Nathan Hill on a lot of Best of 2016 lists, and I’m not surprised to find it there at all. The Nix, if nothing else, is prescient. It is the perfect novel for 2016 – politicians behaving badly, American in economic, political and, dare i say, psychological despair. You get my drift. It is the perfect novel for this moment, in spite of the fact that much of it takes place in the 60s. It is an important novel in the way it shows how history repeats itself, and more impressive because all of this was written before Trump swept the nation.
But you probably won’t see it on my Best of 2016 list. It’s not that I didn’t like The Nix, because I did, I just found it a little verbose. It was LONG. Too long. I would have slashed entire sections. But the parts I liked, I liked a lot. It is a story of an adult son reconnecting with his mother after years of abandonment. This reconnection mostly takes place through an investigation into her past and the secrets that are revealed.
Who would like this novel? Immediately I want to compare Nathan Hill to Jonathan Franzen, and I mean that in a good way. The Nix had none of the misogyny of Franzen, but deals contemporary issues in a similar manner. Both authors look at the big picture through the lens of a families, and do it startlingly well. So this novel is for you if you like to explore the philosophical, political and sociological issues of the world we live in through literature. Oh yeah, and you should also like really long novels.