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The Nix

A Novel
Written by: Nathan Hill
Narrated by: Ari Fliakos
Length: 21 hrs and 42 mins
4 out of 5 stars (46 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 stretch across generations and have their origin all the way back in Norway, home of the mysterious Nix. As he does so, Samuel will confront not only Faye's losses but also his own lost love and will 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.

©2016 Nathan Hill (P)2016 Random House Audio

What the critics say

" 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)
"There is an accidental topicality in Hill's debut, about an estranged mother and son whose fates hinge on two mirror-image political events - the Democratic Convention of 1968 and the Republican Convention of 2004. But beyond that hook lies a high-risk, high-reward playfulness with structure and tone: comic set-pieces, digressions into myth, and formal larks that call to mind Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad." ( New York Magazine)
"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

My daily commute

I struggled with this book, while driving thinking OMG.. this is going to be the longest 21 hour book EVER!! The month of November is going to be LOOOONG... So It did take me a bit of time to get used to the narrators voice... I owe this to my many British audibles I've been hung up on. I also wasn't interested in listening to the story of a young boys life... since I work with dysfunctional youth.. well most anyways. However I pushed through, and really started enjoying my drive, laughing out loud.. at times .. which is rare .. How the choices the characters made, affected their lives, how the ideal world is just as messed up as own reality. The metaphors and folklore's throughout where sad but somewhat real to our own dreams. Little long on the game territorials.. that stupid game.. But in the end my daily drives to and from work, were embraced with the anticipation of what was going to happen next in the Nix.. warning alert.. my inner voice is sounding a bit like Ari.. Oh my.. note to self, stick to shorter audibles.! Thought provoking and interesting story.

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stays with you

After listening, this story stayed with me for a long time. It was very thought provoking and I enjoyed the story a lot.
The narrator does a great job of depicting the numerous characters in this story.

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Well, well worth it.

The actor, more than a narrator, gave a unique voice to every character. Excellent work. This is a great work of fiction filled with irony, tragedy and funny as hell. Lots to make me think. It deserves the great reviews it's getting.

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Fantastic narrator!

The narrator of the novel brought the story to life. By using different voices for each character, it almost felt like I was watching a movie rather than listening to a book. His talent for reading is the best I have ever experienced next to the narrator from Shantaram. An excellent story line exquisitely performed.

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Gold Standard

This is the best book I've listened to in 5 years and the single book I recommend when asked. I got so much out of it and highly entertaining ride.

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  • Bonny
  • 2016-09-13

Nathan Hill is an exceptional storyteller.

In an interview about The Nix, Nathan Hill said, "I stuffed it full of every idea I had. It became a repository of things in the world I was mad about, concerned and confused about." Luckily for me as a reader, he was mad, concerned, and confused about college professors and students they have to deal with, plagiarism, MMORPGs, politics, media, mother-son relationships, past deeds that haunt us, and choose-your-own adventure books. At 620 pages it's a big repository, and even though there were times I wished it had been edited down, there were more times that I wished the stories would go on and on. I started listening to The Nix as an audiobook, but know that the hardcover version weighs in at 620 pages because I bought it when I came to the embedded choose-your-own-adventure book. While "You Can Get The Girl!" is not strictly based upon the readers' choices, I loved this, as I have often longed for this format written for adults.

Reviewers that were not as enthralled with this book as I was seemed to think that Nathan Hill was trying to say something about America and how it has evolved/devolved since the sixties, and that may well have been his intention. Rather than look for a message, I simply enjoyed the multiple story lines, full of humor, sadness, satire, details, and thoughts that point out how funny, terrible, and ludicrous life can be (with all them often occurring simultaneously), like this one from Walter Cronkite's mind:

"It's a chilling thought, that politicians have learned to manipulate the television medium better than the television professionals themselves. When old Cronkite first realized this was happening he imagined the kinds of people who would become politicians in the future. And he shuddered with fear."

It's only September, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that The Nix is most likely the best book I'll read this year. Nathan Hill is an exceptional storyteller, and Ari Fliakos is the perfect narrator.

123 of 139 people found this review helpful

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  • k teed
  • ibillinsly@gmail
  • 2017-06-26

really good

Would you listen to The Nix again? Why?

I don't listen to audiobooks more than once. There are too many out there to listen to the same ones over and over.

What other book might you compare The Nix to and why?

I wouldn't compare any book to Infinite Jest, but there are a few similarities between the two. There are also some similarities to The Goldfinch. I believe that if you like Infinite Jest and/or The Goldfinch, you will like this.

Have you listened to any of Ari Fliakos’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is the only one I've heard from this narrator. He did a great job.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I did laugh a few times during the recording, which I rarely ever do. This recording is worth your time.

Any additional comments?

Excellent work of fiction. Highly recommend this one.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Anita
  • PORTLAND, OR, United States
  • 2016-09-10

Ari Fliakos is a phenomenal narrator!

I vacillated for days before pulling the trigger on this book - boy, am I glad I did! I laughed out loud, I sympathized with our hero(?) and cheered for the video-game geek! I'm not sure how this book would fare as a "read" book - Ari Fliakos ability to voice each of the characters truly brought them to life. I'm not usually a fan of satire, but this one was a delight!

63 of 73 people found this review helpful

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  • Laura
  • New York, NY
  • 2016-11-04

My favorite of the year

I am guilty of "book tunnel vision". Since finishing The Nix, I've listened to other books, but I still can't stop talking about Nathan Hill's debut. It was my pick for the best book of August (and the entire fall, and maybe the entire year), and I wholeheartedly stand by my choice. As I've been saying to everyone, there are so many different elements and layers to this incredible story that no summary or review really does it justice.

At its heart, The Nix is about a young but discouraged college professor reuniting with his estranged mother in order to clear her name of a misunderstood crime. But there's so much more to this "un-pausable" story which spans from 1960s Chicago, to present day New York, to—surprisingly—Norway. I've both read and listened to this book, and I can't recommend Ari Fliakos' spot-on performance enough. And by spot-on, I mean he sounds exactly as I imagined each character in the book should sound. The entire production is perfection.

36 of 43 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • 2016-09-01

Simply awesome

Once I started I couldn't stop. Funny, endearing, dark and whimsical, there's something for everyone as we travel from the 60s to the 80s and modern day. I just love this book. It has tones of Owen Meaney while wrapping us up in a mystery. And we genuinely grow to care about the characters.

I'm only half through and I'm stopping briefly to let you all know, give The Nix a chance. It's not often I write a review and it's even more rare that I find a book this good. Half through and I'm already sad it's going to have to end as I know it'll be awhile before I find another book like this one.

The narrator, by the way, nails the voices abd brings life to all the characters. Simply superb.

86 of 106 people found this review helpful

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  • Sara
  • 2016-11-03

Is There An Editor In The House??

There are plenty of excellent reviews here on audible for this book. As you can see by my lack of stars this wasn't for me. I have just a few thoughts to add here about the book. First, to me, it felt a bit like a collection of creative writing exercises that were just strung together into a book. There wasn't a clear voice that led the reader through this 20+ hour book. At times it almost felt like different writers were at work.

However, most importantly, before you decide on the book do an internet search for interviews done by Hill when the book was published. It is fascinating to hear the author's own words about his work. My biggest take away was that he tried to pack the book with everything that enraged, irritated, frustrated, and infuriated him in life. Put simply, it worked--he succeeded. As a result this "tragicomedy" is all those feelings wrapped up into one very long book.

Hill worried that he would only get to write one book in his life and he wanted to "say it all". I wish he would have had more faith in his writing skill and had said less? Oh, for the want of an editor. Tread carefully.

185 of 235 people found this review helpful

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  • Cayce
  • Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 2017-01-03

Pretty brilliant...

I loved this book but I can understand why the reviews are mixed because it would not be for everyone.

First off, it's not a sweet or heartwarming story. It's a clunky coming of age and never quite getting there story. The characters are flawed and confused and just downright crazy at times, but I thought it was masterful and I never lost interest.

While it's not even remotely political, if you are a law and order kind of person, you might find yourself a bit put off by the characters and the situations they find themselves in.

If you love books like Confederacy of Dunces (which was even more brilliant, I think), you might find yourself right at home with this quirky, surprisingly deep novel.

Listen to the sample (always listen to the sample) and if you laugh a few times, then buy the book.

16 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • barbara
  • 2016-09-08

I adored this book and the narrator. Perfect.

Any additional comments?

Ari Fliakos's narration was outstanding. His rendition of Laura, the college student, was completely hilarious. I listened avidly to the entire book, even taking it with me while I walked the dog, because I couldn't stop listening. It was a wonderful romp, filled with great writing. It put me in mind of Donna Tartt's books. Thank you Nathan Hill, and thank you Ari Fliakos.

46 of 59 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Lori
  • St. Petersburg, Florida
  • 2016-09-09

Loved it!

Closer to 4.5 stars! I loved this book! It was long but always engaging. I had to know how it all ended and the ending was perfect! It's all about choices and regrets and forgiveness (of self and others) and how it all drives you and enables you to make better ones in the future. It shows what a mess one can make out of life for the dumbest of reasons, but not the corny kinds of reasons that just make for a Laurel and Hardy kind of mess- the kinds you can relate to because you've done the same thing. The author puts you in the head of the characters so you understand their choices and empathize with them so that you care and root for them (or in the case of some, hate them and hope for their downfall). I will definitely be looking forward to the next book from this author! And the narrator, Ari Fliakos, did a fabulous job with the different voices for characters!

38 of 49 people found this review helpful

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  • Gary & Jay
  • 2019-04-19

This story will remain with me.

It took me back to so many of the times of my life, as I walked and thought and felt alongside the characters, each of whom was a wonder in their own way.

Thanks to Ari Fliakos for giving hilarity, stupidity, obsession and love, all in their own person, and in their own time.

Listen to this great book. It's not a bit long. When it ends, you'll find it was too short.

Jay Thomas

2 of 2 people found this review helpful