Last year Nell Zink blew my mind with Mislaid (review), and now she’s back with Nicotine. Just to be clear, I did prefer Mislaid, but Nicotine has that same Nell Zink WTF-ness that turns all your assumptions upside down.
Nicotine is set in a squat in New Jersey. The thing that unites the squatters is smoking and their right to do it. But because this is Zink, that is only the beginning of the weirdness. In her trademark way, there are many sexual relationships that break down the traditional paradigms of what we see in the mass media around us. Some of these are refreshing and some made me feel uncomfortable, but that’s what it’s all about.
Who would like this book? Zink is not for everyone. She is edgy and provocative and makes you question everything. To me that’s a good thing, but it won’t be for everyone. But if you’re looking to shake up your reading list a little, Zink is a good place to start. And she does an excellent job of including characters all along the colour,gender and abilities spectrum without making it feel like tokenism. It’s all so real. And there was something about Nicotine that reminded me of Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte, which was one of my favorite books of 2016.