Nicotine: A Novel (Paperback)

Staff Pick Logo
Nicotine: A Novel Cover Image
On Our Shelves Now
3 on hand, as of Jun 20 12:40pm

Staff Reviews

Surgeon General's warning: This book is so good, you'll be hooked! Just kidding. It's an addictive read! Forgive me. Nell Zink is back with another charmingly idiosyncratic novel (and, in my opinion, her best) following last year's Mislaid and The Wallcreepers before that. It's calledNicotine. It's a story about family as well as the strange people in our lives who become like family. It's quick-witted, unafraid of modernity, and it comes highly recommended. The fact that each of her books have been written in only three weeks time is barely a portion of what makes Zink such an interesting voice in contemporary literature.

— From Eric


The “wonderfully talented” (Dwight Garner, New York Times) author of Mislaid returns with a “heady, witty” (Booklist) novel of obsession, idealism, and ownership, centered around a young woman who inherits her bohemian father's childhood home.

Recent business school graduate Penny Baker has rebelled against her family her whole life—by being the conventional one. Her mother, Amalia, was a member of an Amazonian tribe called the Kogi; her much older father, Norm, long ago attained cult-like deity status among a certain group of aging hippies while operating a ‘healing center’ in New Jersey. And she’s never felt particularly close to her much-older half-brothers from Norm’s previous marriage-one wickedly charming and obscenely rich (but mostly just wicked), one a photographer on a distant tropical island.

But all that changes when her father dies, and Penny inherits his childhood home in New Jersey. She goes to investigate the property and finds it occupied by a group of friendly and charming anarchist squatters who have renamed the property Nicotine House. The residents of Nicotine House (defenders of smokers’ rights) possess the type of passion and fervor Penny feels she’s desperately lacking, and the other squatter houses in the neighborhood provide a sense of community she’s never felt before. Penny soon moves into a nearby residence, becoming enmeshed in the political fervor and commitment of her fellow squatters.

As the Baker family’s lives begin to converge around the fate of the Nicotine House, Penny grows ever bolder and more desperate to protect it-and its residents-until a fateful night when a reckless confrontation between her old family and her new one changes everything. 


Praise For…

“Extraordinary... Get the book for its crackling prose and razor-sharp wit, but ready yourself for its blitzkrieg of startling imagery.”

“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. ”

“Intellectually restless, uniquely funny...Propulsive, wonderfully stuffed with irreverent and absorbing banter...What’s most bootylicious in this novel is Zink’s warmhearted embrace of her subjects...One enjoys every minute with these obliging kooks....There may be some readers who want to make out with this book.”

“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.”

“She’s a deadpan comedian, her sentences funny yet plump with existential dread...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.”

“Even when Zink is being conventional, she’s exemplary. What makes her satire so exciting and so novel is the empathy of her writing... Exciting and provocative... She’s a singular figure in the literary landscape, and Nicotine is a perfect introduction to her brilliant, off-kilter world.”

“The author’s best work... Zink is a wordsmith’s wordsmith. She’s sharp, wry, and might be a genius.”

“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.”

“[A] wild and nervy novel. Zink is a master of rapid character development, shifting perspectives, sex scenes and plot twists. … “Nicotine” was so addictive it made me want to reach for a cigarette when I was done.”

“Zink writes some of the most comical lust between “love weasels” in contemporary fiction…[She] excels at scathing set pieces that caustically sum up places and local cultures…She gets her characters in motion, like mismatched roommates in a ramshackle house, and lets us enjoy watching them pinball around.”

“Zink has a sharp knack for illuminating the challenges facing American millennials circa now... [In Nicotine] you’ll find the cutting social commentary and sharply drawn characters of one of this decade’s most promising new novelists.”

“Zink has instantly become one of the most unusual, refreshing voices in contemporary fiction. Her work is completely unfettered by genteel literary conventions and replete with robust storytelling...Both a satire of and a valentine to the 21st-century counterculture, Nicotine is sexy and political and hilarious.”
Product Details
ISBN: 9780062441713
ISBN-10: 006244171X
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: June 20th, 2017
Pages: 304
Language: English