July 02, 2016

Author Nathan Hill Joins the Festival as Special Guest Lecturer

Nathan Hill explores Bruch's Violin Concerto as a central theme in his debut novel, The Nix. Join him on Wednesday, July 13 at 5:30 pm in the Family Fun Tent as he reads an excerpt from The Nix and discusses Bruch with host Laura Sauer.

Nathan Hill’s short stories have appeared in The Iowa Review, AGNI, Gulf Coast, The Denver Quarterly, Fugue, The Gettysburg Review, and many other journals. He was the winner of the annual Fiction Prize from the journal Fiction for his story “The Bottle.” The Iowa Review nominated his story “SuperAngel” for a Pushcart Prize. He was also a finalist for the Donald Barthelme Prize in Short Prose, and the recipient of an Artist Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. 

Hill is an Associate Professor of English at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he’s taught creative writing and literature courses. Before joining the faculty at St. Thomas, he taught writing at Florida Gulf Coast University. Before that, he worked at the Academy

of American Poets, editing and designing the website Poets.org. He has also worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist. He holds a BA in English and Journalism from the University of Iowa and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Join Hill as he reads an excerpt from his debut novel, The Nix, and explores Bruch's Violin Concerto as a central theme. View more information on Pre-Concert Lectures.


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 re-appeared, 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.