LoveReading Expert Review of NICK

From devastation and death in WWI France, to devastation and debauchery in Frenchtown, New Orleans, this is a dazzling character study of Nick Carraway before The Great Gatsby.

Who was Nick Carraway before he stepped into the world of The Great Gatsby? Michael Farris Smith sets out to explore these questions in Nick, a darkly absorbing, brilliantly accomplished literary undertaking provoked by the author’s complex relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece.

With themes of isolation and dislocated identity at its heart, this masterful novel opens in Paris when Nick leaves his lover to return to the horrors of war, ever conscious of death. Imagining his own demise, he wonders, “Who would be there to mourn?... Did anyone truly love him and did he love anyone?” Nick is also constantly consumed by an impulse to escape, juxtaposed with wondering what it is “know your place in the world”. Unable to find his lover when the war is over, and unable to bring himself to return to the family home, he transports himself to Frenchtown, New Orleans, with its drinking dens, whorehouses and vicious vendettas. The world over seems to be filled with folk floundering, people desperate to escape or obliterate their tattered lives, and time and time again Nick’s life entwines with fellow broken, lost souls. This curious magnetism is pertinently expressed by sick bartender Judah when he says, “if there’s one thing the lost are able to recognise it is the others who are just as wounded and wandering.”

Ending on a radiant dawn epiphany scene, with Nick on the verge of moving East, this left me longing to re-visit The Great Gatsby, and keen to read the rest of Farris Smith’s novels.

Joanne Owen

NICK Synopsis

Critically acclaimed novelist Michael Farris Smith pulls Nick Carraway out of the shadows and into the spotlight in this exhilarating imagination of his life before The Great Gatsby.

Before Nick Carraway moved to West Egg and into Gatsby’s world, he was at the centre of a very different story – one taking place along the trenches and deep within the tunnels of World War I.

Floundering in the wake of the destruction he witnessed first-hand, Nick delays his return home, hoping to escape the questions he cannot answer about the horrors of war. Instead, he embarks on a transcontinental redemptive journey that takes him from a whirlwind Paris romance – doomed from the very beginning – to the dizzying frenzy of New Orleans, rife with its own flavour of debauchery and violence.

An epic portrait of a truly singular era and a sweeping, romantic story of self-discovery, this rich and imaginative novel breathes new life into a character that many know only from the periphery. Charged with enough alcohol, heartbreak, and profound yearning to transfix even the heartiest of golden age scribes, Nick reveals the man behind the narrator who has captivated readers for decades.

About This Edition

ISBN: 9780857304537
Publication date: 24th September 2021
Author: Michael Farris Smith
Publisher: No Exit Press an imprint of Oldcastle Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 320 pages
Collections: 30+ Reimagined Classics - Novel Reworkings of Classic Novels That Offer Fresh Takes on Timeless Tales., Bring out the Bunting, Turn up the Volume, Face the Music and Dance - 20+ Brilliant Books Featuring Parties That’ll Have You Reading into the Early Hours.,
Primary Genre Literary Fiction
Other Genres:
Win a Gatsby Themed Prize from No Exit Press and Quote & Quill

Win a Gatsby Themed Prize from No Exit Press and Quote & Quill

Closing date: 16/12/2021

To celebrate the recent paperback release of Michael Farris Smith’s acclaimed prequel to The Great Gatsby, in which narrator Nick Carraway steps out of the shadows and into the spotlight, No Exit Press have teamed up with literary gift brand, Quote & Quill for this fantastic Gatsby-themed competition!  The prize bundle includes a paperback of NICK, with its gorgeous art deco inspired cover, a copy of The Great Gatsby, a fabulous jazz age bookmark, F. Scott Fitzgerald quote notebooks and postcards, as well as a £10 gift voucher to spend at Quote & Quill! No Exit Press is an imprint of independent publisher Oldcastle Books Ltd. In 2019 NEP won the CWA Crime & Mystery Publisher of the Year Dagger award. In over 30 years of business, we have published award-winning fiction and non-fiction including the work of a Pulitzer Prize winner, the British Crime Book of the Year, numerous CWA Dagger Awards, a British million copy bestselling author, the winner of the Canadian Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Scotiabank Giller Prize, to name but a few. They are the home of many crime and noir legends from the USA whose work includes iconic film adaptations and TV sensations. No Exit prides themselves on uncovering the most exciting new or undiscovered talents. Visit for more information. Quote and Quill creates stationery and gifts inspired by beautiful books and classic literature quotes. From writing sets and notebooks to postcards, bookmarks and prints, Quote and Quill are proud to sell products that are ethically made from recycled, sustainable materials that are kind to the planet.  Visit for more information. This draw is open only for UK residents currently in the UK and is free to enter, multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once. The draw closes on 16th December 2021. Please ensure that the details you use to enter the competition will be correct at the time the competition ends. The winners will be notified as soon as possible.

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What To Read After NICK

A Woman Made of Snow
The Unravelling
Black Cake
A More Perfect Union

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9780857304537
Publication date: 24/09/2021
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780857304544
Publication date: 25/02/2021
Format: Hardback

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About Michael Farris Smith

Michael Farris Smith is the award-winning author of Rivers and The Hands of Strangers. Rivers was named in numerous Best Books of the Year lists, and garnered the 2014 Mississippi Author Award for Fiction. His short fiction has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his essays have appeared in The New York Times, Catfish Alley, Writer’s Bone, and more. He lives in Columbus, Mississippi, with his wife and two daughters.   Author photo © Chris Jenkins

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