Nicotine

Nell Zink

“She wills her body to be equally wraithlike. Not sodden, not heavy, not dead, but filled with crackling, electric life, like a stale Marlboro on fire.”

Unemployed business major, Penny, has rebelled against her family her whole life – by being the conventional one. Her mother was a member of a South American tribe; her father was a Jewish Shamanist with a psychedelic ‘healing centre’. But everything changes when her father dies and Penny inherits his childhood home. Left weightless and unmoored after being the only member of her family with time for her dying father, Penny then finds his property occupied by a group of squatters, united in defence of smokers’ rights – and herself unexpectedly besotted with them, particularly Rob, the hot bicycle-and-tobacco activist.

Totally addictive and dangerously good, ‘Nicotine’ is a fiercely funny novel in which passion is politics and nonviolence is the opposite of surrender.

Reviews of Nicotine

  • ‘Hard as nails and soft as tears, this is Zink’s best yet’ Monocle

    ‘There’s a liveliness in Zink’s prose, an exuberance that carries the reader… Zink writes with a joyful recklessness – the sense that maybe she did write this novel in three weeks – that makes her one of the freshest talents around.’ Joe Dunthorne, The Guardian

    ‘Nicotine is another hilarious and generally blurb-defying display of off-the-wall firepower. Zink has enormous fun with her cast of clueless, horny, hippy activists, but she’s the real anarchic spirit. It’s weirdly affecting, totally addictive and exhilaratingly unlike anything else you’ll read’ Daily Mail

    ‘Nicotine is a fitting title. Her sentences are like cigarettes: the first few are dizzying and not always pleasant, but before you know it, you’re hooked. Nicotine is a very funny book that has very serious things to say about the hypocrisies of millennial attitudes to love and power and desire.’ The Daily Telegraph*****

    ‘Nicotine is addictive … she combines the fiercely funny with whipsmart originality to dizzying effect’ Stylist

    ‘Nicotine proves Zink’s distinctive verve as mesmerising as ever’ Independent

    ‘Zink’s prose is an always fascinating instrument, one as flitting and amorphous as the attention span of her characters … Her sentences can stun, perfectly nailing a situation or emotion’ The Spectator

    ‘The extended description of Norm’s death is full of persuasive, unflinching detail; Zink takes time and care, to powerful effect’ Sunday Times

    ‘Deadly dry comedy. Zink’s unconventionality is refreshing’ The Times, Books of the Year

    ‘She’s a startlingly original voice, playfully wise, sometimes disturbing’ Big Issue North

    ‘Zink is an audacious writer … she always creates vibrant, off-kilter worlds for her characters to inhabit’ The Times

    ‘Nicotine is a whirlwind of a book …Zink has a great gift for ventriloquism. Her work brims with funny dialogue … rollicking fun for the 300 or so pages that it lasts’ TLS