Nathan Hill’s debut as a published writer was fearless and bold. His book, The Nix, wowed critics nationwide and earned Hill comparisons to literary greats such as Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace. The book was quickly optioned for a TV miniseries, with Meryl Streep and J.J. Abrams attached to the project.
At its heart, The Nix is a book about mothers and sons, childhood friendships, first loves, and maternal abandonment. But it’s also a critique of millennial entitlement, presidential politics, the 24-hour news cycle, video game addiction, cell phone distraction, and academia, with a story that careens from the sleepy suburbs of the 1980s, to post-9/11 Iraq, to ’60s counterculture, to WWII-era Norway.
A generous and funny speaker, Hill’s talks about his early beginnings as a short story writer are filled with both quirky and brutal truths. A sharp social observer, he also reflects on the glittering beauty and numbing absurdity of modern pop and media culture.
Hill holds a BA in English and Journalism from the University of Iowa and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. His short stories have appeared in many literary journals, including The Iowa Review, AGNI, The Gettysburg Review, and Fiction, where he was awarded the annual Fiction Prize.
Ten Years In The Making
Nathan Hill’s first draft of The Nix was 1,002 pages long, and took ten years to write. In his lecture, he will discuss the very odd circumstances that inspired the novel, explain why he included so many different subjects, and take the audience through the writing process that sustained him for a decade.
One of the unique joys of reading literature is that it allows us to experience what it might be like to be someone else. Literature can be like an x-ray, peering past the façade and seeing all the secrets hidden underneath. This lecture (and PowerPoint presentation) focuses on ways to achieve this kind of “x-ray writing,” looking especially at discoveries from the fields of psychology and neurobiology and what insights they offer writers.
Praise for The Nix
“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
“Irresistible. . . . A major new comic novelist . . . . Hill is a sharp social observer, hyper-alert to the absurdities of modern life. . . . his enormous book arrives as one of the stars of the fall season. . . . readers will find this novel. And they’ll be dazzled.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“Hill has so much talent to burn that he can pull of just about any style, imagine himself into any person and convincingly portray any place or time. The Nix is hugely entertaining and unfailingly smart, and the author seems incapable of writing a pedestrian sentence or spinning a boring story. . . . [A] supersize and audacious novel of American misadventure.” —Teddy Wayne, The New York Times Book Review