NELL ZINK reads from her new novel NICOTINE

Nicotine (Ecco Press)

Since her debut, Nell Zink’s literary star has been on the rise. Her novel, Mislaid, was a New York Times Notable Book and was longlisted for the National Book Award. Zink’s highly anticipated new novel, Nicotine is another startlingly original, audaciously funny novel, poised to bring her the wider readership her universal acclaim commands.

Homing in on the clash between lingering 1960s ideals and 21st century pragmatism, Nicotine pits recent business school graduate Penny Baker against a band of aging hippie squatters who have a thing or two to teach her about life. Penny has rebelled against her free-spirit family, opting for a conventional life, but when she inherits her father’s childhood home in New Jersey, she discover that it is occupied by a group of friendly anarchist defenders of smokers’ rights. They have renamed the property Nicotine House, and Penny unexpectedly gets seduced both sexually and idealistically by their passion and charm. Suddenly finding a sense of community she never felt before, Penny becomes enmeshed in the romantic lives and political fervor of these people she once would have dismissed as throwbacks. As the Baker family’s lives begin to converge around the fate of Nicotine House, Penny grows bolder, confronting the law and her old family to protect the new one she has adopted as her own.

Just as Mislaid drew on the author’s memories of growing up in Virginia in the 1960s, Nicotine taps her experience living in cooperative housing in the US before moving to Germany, and she transforms many hilarious and resonant details from that time into fiction. This endearing story also brilliantly captures our current obsession with real estate, reflectingconflicting attitudes about gentrification, housing, and wealth. 

Jonathan Franzen says, “Nell Zink is a writer of extraordinary talent and range. Her work insistently raises the possibility that the world is larger and stranger than the world you think you know. You might not want to believe this, but her sentences and stories are so strong and convincing that you’ll have no choice.”

Praise for Nicotine

“A hilarious perversion of the rom-com…Ms. Zink’s 2015 novel Mislaid delightfully sent up racial and gender mores, and here again she has affectionate fun tweaking the pieties of her cast of businessmen, cultists and activists. …Nicotine is light reading in the best sense. Think Wodehouse for millennials.” –Wall Street Journal
“Nell Zink’s surname, which seems to combine the words “zing” and “sink,” happens to be a nice distillation of her prose style. She’s a deadpan comedian, her sentences funny yet plump with existential dread. Her novels give you that zinking feeling….You’re never tempted to put Ms. Zink’s novels aside. They contain so much backspin and topspin that you’re kept alert by the leaping motion….Her books are sexy…I could listen to Ms. Zink’s dialogue all day; she may be, at heart, a playwright.” -New York Times

“[This] book has teeth and bares them in fun ways…. This might not be her most “important,” but it’s gotta be the most fun..” –Philly Voice

“Undeniably excellent... Propulsive... This is Zink at her most heartfelt... Zink is an architect. She builds worlds that look a little like ours, but are wrong enough to make one think—really think, not just feel. ” -New Republic

“Smart and often very funny... Even while Zink skewers bohemian stereotypes — the affluent squatter, the chain-smoking environmentalist — she cares for her characters, imbuing them with complicated personalities, causes and sexual proclivities. Rich sensory detail, earnest dialogue and raw emotion...Absorbing, original... Belongs on your fall list.” -Chicago Tribune
“A healthy dose of comedy for the unconventional and conventional alike.” –New York Post
“[A] quirky and consistently engaging story about the millennial generation’s circuitous journey to find its way in the world…fast-paced…smart and never predictable.” ­-Bookpage

“A funny clash of idealists and pragmatists, millennials and baby boomers and the families we’re born into versus the families we’ve chosen.” –PureWow
“Extraordinary... Get the book for its crackling prose and razor-sharp wit, but ready yourself for its blitzkrieg of startling imagery.” -Village Voice
“NICOTINE is further proof that Nell Zink has on eof the finer imaginations in fiction today. A rich, rewarding tale of love, rebirth, and chewing tobacco...Zink does such an incredible job of depicting weirdos as real, smart, vulnerable, complicated people. Social satire with a sharp wit and a big heart.” -Kirkus, STARRED Review
“Zink’s heady, witty novel traverses diverse perspectives and intentions, offering rich exploration of the characters’ varied conflicts and subversive lives.”-Booklist

“[Zink] writes with tongue firmly in cheek. Her jaded worldview, leavened by a well-honed sense of the absurd, reveals itself as she skewers millennials and boomers alike for failing to live up to their once tightly held convictions.” -Library Journal 

Nell Zink grew up in rural Virginia. She has worked at a variety of trades, including masonry and technical writing. In the early 1990s, she edited an indie rock fanzine. Her writing has also appeared in n+1. She is the author of The Wallcreeper and Mislaid. She lives near Berlin, Germany.

Photo by Fred Filkorn

Event date: 
Friday, October 14, 2016 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Nicotine Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062441706
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Ecco Press - October 4th, 2016

Mislaid Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062364784
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco Press - January 26th, 2016

Private Novelist: Fiction Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062458308
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco Press - October 4th, 2016

The Wallcreeper Cover Image
ISBN: 9780989760713
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Dorothy a Publishing Project - October 1st, 2014