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Are you in the market for a gripping and thought-provoking audiobook? Look no further than “The Nix” by Nathan Hill. In this audiobook review, we’ll explore why this book has become a favorite among listeners, highlighting its standout features and themes.

Nathan Hill, the author of “The Nix,” has quickly established himself as a prominent voice in contemporary fiction with this stunning debut novel. The book follows the story of Samuel Andresen-Anderson, a failed writer and college professor, as he navigates his complex family history and confronts his own personal demons.

Key Takeaways:

  • “The Nix” by Nathan Hill is a captivating and poignant audiobook that explores compelling themes of family relationships, political activism, and personal redemption.
  • The audiobook’s narration and voice acting bring the story’s characters to life, enhancing the overall listening experience.
  • Nathan Hill’s prose is witty and thought-provoking, utilizing metaphors and imagery with excellent effect.
  • The novel has received critical acclaim and numerous awards, cementing its place as a contemporary classic.
  • If you enjoy “The Nix,” other recommended works of contemporary fiction include “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen and “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt.

About the Author, Nathan Hill

If you’re not already familiar with him, Nathan Hill is a critically acclaimed author and essayist known for his signature blend of wit, insight, and humor. Born in Iowa in 1975, Hill spent much of his early life traveling and exploring different parts of the country, which ultimately influenced his unique perspective on American culture.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Hill worked as a teacher and as a journalist. He studied creative writing at the University of Arizona and earned his MFA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

While “The Nix” is Hill’s debut novel, he has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, Slate, and The Iowa Review.

In an interview, Hill described his writing process as “slow and steady,” emphasizing the importance of revising and polishing his work until he is satisfied with the final product. His attention to detail and dedication to craft are evident in “The Nix,” which has been widely praised for its intricate plot, multi-dimensional characters, and sharp dialogue.

“One of the most interesting and ambitious first novels I’ve ever read.” – The Washington Post

Synopsis of “The Nix”

Published in 2016, “The Nix” is a novel by Nathan Hill that explores themes of family, politics, and personal redemption. The story is divided between two timelines: one set in the 1960s and the other in 2011.

In the present day, the protagonist, Samuel, is a struggling writer and a college professor. His estranged mother, Faye, makes national news after throwing gravel at a conservative politician. This event prompts Samuel to dig deeper into his mother’s past and childhod, and in so doing begins to understand their complicated relationship and the demons that drove Faye to abandon him when he was 11 years old.

In the other timeline, a young Faye navigates her own challenges, including a dysfunctional family, a troubled romance, and a political awakening that leads her to join a protest movement. As the two narratives converge, Hill masterfully pieces together a heartwrenching and at times comedic tale of generational trauma and the power of the past.

Key Characters and Their Journeys

Character Timeline Summary of Journey
Samuel Present day Samuel is a washed-up writer who struggles with addiction and relationships. He embarks on a journey of self-discovery, seeking to reconcile with his mother and unravel the mystery of their past.
Faye 1960s and Present day Faye is a complex character whose past and present selves are at odds. As a young woman, she struggles to find her place in the world, navigate abusive relationships, and become politically engaged. In the present, she is a recluse with a notorious reputation, a mystery to her son and the public.
John 1960s John is Faye’s first love and a central figure in her political awakening. He is charismatic and intelligent, but also manipulative and self-centered. His presence in the novel highlights the tension between personal desires and political ideals.
Bishop Present day Bishop is a prominent politician who becomes the target of Faye’s protest. His role in the novel underscores the corruption of politics and the commodification of public image.

“The Nix is a panoramic, multi-layered, and ultimately rewarding novel, full of humor, pathos, and insight. Hill’s writing is sharp and snappy, with just the right amount of ironic distance to make the heavier moments land. His characters are flawed and human, each with their own quirks and desires. Despite its length, The Nix never feels bloated or indulgent: rather, it’s a triumph of storytelling that affirms the power of literature to move and transform us.” -LA Review of Books

Narration and Voice Acting in the Audiobook

One of the key elements that can elevate an audiobook from a good listening experience to a great one is narration. Fortunately, “The Nix” audiobook delivers in this aspect, thanks to the performance of the talented voice actor, Ari Fliakos. His versatile voice brings each character to life, drawing listeners into their unique perspectives and struggles.

Fliakos skillfully navigates the different accents and personalities of the book’s many characters, ensuring that each one is distinct and memorable. Furthermore, his ability to capture the emotion and humor in Nathan Hill’s writing adds depth to the story, making it an engaging and poignant listen.

Overall, the narration and voice acting in the audiobook version of “The Nix” create a dynamic and immersive listening experience that enhances the already captivating story.

Writing Style and Language in “The Nix”

When it comes to writing style and language, “The Nix” by Nathan Hill does not disappoint. Hill’s prose is witty, engaging, and thoroughly enjoyable, making it easy for readers to immerse themselves in the story. He combines humor and insight to create a thoughtful and poignant narrative that captures the essence of contemporary America.

One of the notable features of Hill’s writing is his use of metaphors and imagery. He utilizes these literary devices to enhance the reader’s understanding of the story and its underlying themes. For example, in one scene, he describes a character’s heart as “a small, tightly sealed envelope that no one had ever been brave enough to open.” This metaphor not only creates a clear picture in the reader’s mind but also emphasizes the fear and vulnerability the character is feeling.

“Nathan Hill’s prose is witty, engaging, and thoroughly enjoyable, making it easy for readers to immerse themselves in the story.”

Additionally, Hill’s writing style is characterized by its simplicity and clarity. He manages to convey complex emotions and ideas with straightforward language, which makes the story accessible to a wide audience. Furthermore, he blends different points of view and time periods to create a multifaceted narrative that keeps the reader engaged throughout.

Overall, the writing style and language of “The Nix” are two of its strongest elements, contributing greatly to the novel’s success. Hill’s skillful use of metaphors and imagery, combined with his clear and concise style, make for an unforgettable reading experience.

Themes Explored in “The Nix”

At its core, “The Nix” by Nathan Hill is a story about family, relationships, and personal redemption. Hill weaves together a complex narrative that explores the multifaceted nature of human connections and the impact they have on our lives. While there are numerous themes present throughout the book, we’ll focus on three that are particularly poignant:

Family Relationships

The relationship between the novel’s main character, Samuel, and his mother Faye is a central theme in “The Nix.” Through their interactions, Hill explores the complexities of this familial bond, examining the impact that past traumas can have on present-day relationships. As the story unfolds, readers are invited to reflect on the connections they have with their own families and the ways in which those relationships have shaped their lives.

Political Activism

Hill also addresses themes of political activism in “The Nix.” Through the character of Bethany, a college student heavily involved in political protests, the author provides a commentary on the role of activism in contemporary society. Readers are asked to question the effectiveness of political action and the ethics of using protests as a means of effecting change. This theme is particularly relevant in today’s socio-political climate, making “The Nix” a thought-provoking read.

Personal Redemption

The final theme we’ll explore is personal redemption. Throughout the course of the novel, various characters struggle with personal demons and past mistakes. Hill depicts the power of self-forgiveness and the possibility of overcoming past mistakes to find peace and happiness. This theme is particularly poignant in the character of Samuel, who must come to terms with his own past to move forward with his life.

“The Nix” is a beautifully written novel that explores a wide range of complex themes. Through his masterful storytelling, Nathan Hill invites readers to reflect on the nature of human relationships and the power of personal redemption.

Character Development in “The Nix”

One of the standout elements of “The Nix” is Nathan Hill’s ability to craft complex and compelling characters. As the story unfolds, readers are introduced to a diverse cast of personalities, each with their own unique backstories, motivations, and struggles.

At the center of the novel is Samuel Andresen-Anderson, a failed writer and college professor who is forced to confront his estranged mother, Faye, after she makes headlines for throwing rocks at a political figure. As the two reconnect, readers are taken on a journey that explores the challenges of familial relationships, personal growth, and the power of forgiveness.

Throughout the narrative, Hill brings these characters to life by skillfully portraying their complexities and inner struggles. Samuel, in particular, undergoes a significant transformation as he grapples with his own insecurities and past traumas.

Hill’s writing style and attention to detail allow readers to truly connect with these characters and experience their emotional journeys. By the end of the story, readers are left with a deep understanding of the characters and their motivations, making for a truly satisfying read.

Critical Reception and Awards

Since its release, “The Nix” by Nathan Hill has received widespread acclaim from critics and readers alike, cementing its place as a modern classic of contemporary literature. The novel has been praised for its insightful commentary on modern life, while Hill’s wit and humor have been lauded as major strengths of the book.

Notable Reviews

“Astonishingly good… [an] ambitious, multi-tiered, reading-pleasure-buzzing anecdotally abundant and imaginatively rich novel” – The Guardian

“Engrossing, spirited, and often bleakly funny… Hill has created characters whose tragic pride and comic blunders evoke Faulkner’s Sartoris and Roths’s Zuckermans.” – Vogue

The critical reception for “The Nix” has been overwhelmingly positive, with many reviewers praising its astute observations on contemporary life, and the richness of the narrative and characters. Such reception has caused the book to hit the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Washington Post, and many others.

Awards and Nominations

Due to its significant critical reception, “The Nix” by Nathan Hill has also received numerous awards and nominations.

Award Name Awarded By Year
National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize National Book Critics Circle 2016
Alex Award Young Adult Library Services Association 2017
PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction PEN America 2017
Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction Dayton Literary Peace Prize 2017
Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction The Los Angeles Times 2016

The awards received by “The Nix” reflect the quality of the book’s writing, story amalgamation, and depth of characters. The accolades and recognition have extensively contributed to the publication’s popularity among readers and the literary community.

Comparisons and Similar Works

If you enjoyed “The Nix” by Nathan Hill, you might also enjoy exploring similar works that showcase the same level of wit and depth.

One such work is “The Overstory” by Richard Powers. It shares a similar narrative structure, jumping between different characters and time periods while exploring themes of humanity’s relationship with nature. Powers’ writing also features a poetic, metaphorical quality that echoes Hill’s style.

Another recommended read is “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel features an ensemble cast and explores the interconnectivity of human lives, similar to “The Nix.” Egan also uses fragmented timelines and unique perspectives to tell her story, adding a similar touch of originality.

“The Overstory was the most exciting, ambitious, and beautiful novel I’ve read in years. Hands down.” – Ann Patchett

“This is a book so readably juicy and surreptitiously smart, it deserves all the attention it can get.” – Barbara Kingsolver on “A Visit from the Goon Squad”

Comparisons and Similar Works

Both of these novels explore themes and styles that resonate with “The Nix” and offer a similarly engaging reading experience.


Overall, “The Nix” by Nathan Hill is a captivating audiobook that will keep you engaged from start to finish. The combination of Hill’s compelling writing style and the excellent narration make it a must-listen for fans of literary fiction.

The portrayal of family relationships, political activism, and personal redemption in “The Nix” is both poignant and thought-provoking. The dynamic and well-developed characters add depth and relatability to the story, making it easy to become fully invested in their journeys.

The critical reception and numerous awards received by “The Nix” are a testament to its impact on the literary world. Hill’s unique perspective and skillful storytelling make him a writer to watch for in the future.

For those looking for comparable works, “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt and “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” by Michael Chabon offer similar themes and styles.

In conclusion, we highly recommend “The Nix” audiobook to anyone looking for a compelling and thought-provoking story with excellent narration.


How long is “The Nix” audiobook?

The “The Nix” audiobook has a total runtime of approximately 19 hours and 41 minutes.

Who narrates “The Nix” audiobook?

The audiobook of “The Nix” is narrated by Ari Fliakos.

Is “The Nix” available in other formats besides audiobook?

Yes, “The Nix” is also available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book formats.

Can I download the “The Nix” audiobook for offline listening?

Yes, you can download the “The Nix” audiobook from popular audiobook platforms like Audible for offline listening.

Are there any content warnings for “The Nix” audiobook?

“The Nix” contains some strong language and adult themes, so listener discretion is advised.

How can I purchase or stream the “The Nix” audiobook?

You can purchase or stream the “The Nix” audiobook from online retailers such as Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

Is “The Nix” part of a series?

No, “The Nix” is a standalone novel and not part of a series.

Can I listen to a sample of “The Nix” audiobook before purchasing?

Yes, most audiobook platforms offer free samples of “The Nix” audiobook for listeners to preview before making a purchase.

Does “The Nix” audiobook have any additional bonus content?

Some editions of “The Nix” audiobook may include bonus author interviews or discussions about the book.

Can I return or exchange the “The Nix” audiobook if I’m not satisfied?

The return or exchange policy for audiobooks may vary depending on the platform or retailer you purchase it from. It’s best to check their specific refund policy for more information.

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