Nell Zink’s ‘The Wallcreeper’ is the Debut Novel of the Year. It opens with a wallcreeper — a small, beautiful, and territorial bird found in Eurasia — and a miscarriage.
It ends with death and muted self-actualization. In between, there is (a lot) of adulterous sex, the repeated buildup and breakdown of a marriage, eco-terrorism, and a waterfall of observations about contemporary social and romantic life wrapped in an excruciating wit that suggests its author, Nell Zink, is anything but a novice. The Wallcreeper, in fact, is the best debut novel of the year by an American author, and it should be read and discussed by anyone who cares about young life in the 21st century. Not much is known about Nell Zink: this much is confirmed by the scant publicity materials and coverage afforded to her work thus far. She appears to have been “discovered” — at least in America — by Jonathan Franzen, a fellow birder.
Given that The Wallcreeper was written as a letter for Franzen (as a kind of dare), there is no shortage of birding metaphors. Nell Zink’s The Wallcreeper – Dorothy. “Who is Nell Zink?
She claims to be an expatriate living in northeast Germany. Maybe she is; maybe she isn’t. I don’t know. I do know that this first novel arrives with a voice that is fully formed: mature, hilarious, terrifyingly intelligent, and wicked. The novel is about a bird-loving American couple that moves to Europe and becomes, basically, eco-terrorists. Excerpts from The Wallcreeper are available in n+1 and at Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading (where you can also learn how the book came to Dorothy). “Nell Zink’s heady and rambunctious debut novel . . . moves at breakneck speed . . .
“[A]n instrument of delight, an offering of kinship. “Peppered with witty one-liners, Zink’s portrayal of a young American couple that moves to Europe is strange, hilarious, and utterly captivating.” harpers bazaar “A hundred and ninety pages and zero chapter breaks, the book sounds like nothing you have ever read, and derives its bang from ideas you hadn’t thought to have.” The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink. Mislaid/The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink review – ‘prodigiously intelligent and odd’ Achieving “cultural significance”, Nell Zink wrote recently on BuzzFeed, is looking like the best job she has ever had.
“My social status in the last year has gone from zero to hero. Where will it all end?” Strangers organise dinners in her honour. “I was invited to the Edinburgh festival! A photo editor asked me who she should book for makeup and hair!” Over the past year, Zink has published not one novel but two. “A dubstep novel with a bird in it”: that’s one of the ways Zink describes The Wallcreeper. The first shock comes in the first sentence: “I was looking at the map when Stephen swerved, hit the rock, and occasioned the miscarriage.”
Mislaid is also presumably autobiographical in some way, being set in the 1960s in rural Virginia, where Zink herself grew up. The main character is a girl called Peggy, who worries that she may be a man until she discovers “thespianism” at a private women’s college. And so Peggy runs off, taking her daughter with her but leaving her son behind. ‘The Wallcreeper’ Is Nell Zink’s Debut Novel. Photo Books of The Times By PARUL SEHGAL You don’t read Nell Zink so much as step into the ring with her.
Every sentence is a jab or feint, rigged for surprise. Every word feels like a verb. Her debut novel, “The Wallcreeper,” is a very funny, very strange work of unhinged brilliance — rude sex comedy meets environmental tract. “The Wallcreeper” has the lineaments of a familiar story — young Americans go abroad and come apart — but it also has Tiffany, who sounds like no one else in American fiction. The rest of the opening scene unfurls like something out of “Fawlty Towers.”
It’s an antic episode, a fine introduction to the universe of this book, its off-kilter charm. She is especially crafty when it comes to sex. Ms. For all the sweetness of these scenes, Ms. Of course, Ms. So we see her mind begin to roam, to move like a writer’s mind. Ms. (Mr. By Nell Zink 193 pages. Photo Books of The Times By PARUL SEHGAL You don’t read Nell Zink so much as step into the ring with her.