Nicolay debut novel praise, reviews

Franz Nicolay’s Fall 2021 debut novel Someone Should Pay for Your Pain gets rave reviews and praise:

“Finally, the great indie-rock novel. . . . A heart-bruising story — like Dostoevsky in a DIY punk space.”— Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone (A Rolling Stone “Best Music Book of 2021”)

“A brutally funny and heartfelt novel about the creative process, failure, endless wandering, and uncensored perspective of life for most musicians.”— Chronogram

As a lifelong musician in various bands (he’s currently the Hold Steady’s keyboardist) Nicolay’s insight into that world comes across vividly. –Spin magazine

“Starting at the midlife crisis of an early-aughts indie rock never-was, Franz Nicolay delivers a tight-fisted gut punch of a novel, weaving a road-weary world with a lyricist’s skill for evocation, emotion, and economy. A requiem for the non-glamour of every minor scene that once, briefly, felt enormous, and an unflinching and finely rendered vision of old anthems clashing with new ideals, Someone Should Pay for Your Pain is a story of an “Xennial” reckoning unto redemption, which fans of Nicolay’s band, the Hold Steady, will appreciate, and which will leave anyone who reads it brimming with ragged hope. A knockout fiction debut from a longtime troubadour.”—Alex Houston, the Seminary Co-op, “42 Great Books To Read This Spring, Recommended By Our Favorite Indie Booksellers,” in BuzzFeed News

“Through the blur of indifferent audiences and counterfeit drink tickets, Rudy becomes the de facto guardian of his crust punk niece and is forced to reckon with his broken relationship with a famous former protégé—a career-defining falling out where the holier-than-thou Pauver has always cast himself as the victim, though the truth is far more muddy. . . . Nicolay’s pitch-perfect observations make his story intriguing and all too true, zooming by like trees on the side of the highway.”—Chris L. Terry, Razorcake

“I love this for novel for its sensitivity to the tenderness and absurdity of human after human, city after city, year after year. Someone Should Pay for Your Pain is a marvel, and when I finished it, my first emotion was to return to the opening pages and read it all over again.”—Rivka Galchen, author of Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch: A Novel

“Wise, brutal and funny, Someone Should Pay for Your Pain is a bruising and beautiful glimpse of the endless tour of broken dreams some of us call life. But as Franz Nicolay shows in this stunning fiction debut, there is still hope. You just might have to fight yourself for it.”—Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask and Hark

“Franz Nicolay’s poetic takedown of a musician’s extended adolescence goes down smoother than a drink ticket beer. Read it before you get in the van.”— Chris L. Terry, author of the novels Black Card and Zero Fade

If you’ve been waiting for the great rock and roll novel look no further. Franz Nicolay’s Someone Should Pay for Your Pain smashes Don Delillo’s Great Jones Street against a chaste Lolita. Nicolay’s book focuses on the illusion of stardom and the reality that most musicians play mainly in dingy clubs to sparse if passionate fans. Rudy, the book’s hero, lays down insights into art making as well as the wide variety of hangovers all the while moving fitfully toward a great dilation of care.”— Darcey Steinke

“Rudy Pauver is a middle-aged musician with mid-level talent, still out there on the road, still grinding, still trying, but he’s not quite sure why. In this beautifully and brutally honest novel, Franz Nicolay challenges our romantic notions of freedom and the working artist’s life. He crafts a story that any reader, mired in the daily disappointments of what their life was supposed to have been, can embrace.”— Cari Luna, author of The Revolution of Every Day

Someone Should Pay for Your Pain is a poignant and powerfully honest meditation on aging, art-making, and failure. With a sharp ear and an unsparing eye, Franz Nicolay has reinvented the road novel, stripping it of wide-eyed, Kerouac-ian grandeur to expose the frozen landscapes—both external and internal—that are part and parcel of a rootless existence. It’s a book that will haunt me for a long time to come.”— Adam Wilson, author of Sensation Machines

“Nicolay’s ear goes beyond music. There is confidence and grace in these pages, characters that feel pulled from daily life, none of their rough edges sanded down. A debut novel not just for artists, but anyone who’s ever felt like they’ve grown up and distorted, uncomfortable moving through the world.”— Jean Kyoung Frazier, author of Pizza Girl

“The life of an artist is really about giving. That’s especially so for the musician. You give all of yourself to your art and it’s likely you won’t get much back in return. It’s a tough world, but few can write about it as beautifully as Franz Nicolay. With Someone Should Pay for Your Pain, Nicolay gives us the sort of fully realized, there’s-no-going-back kind of story that’s hauntingly reminiscent of Denis Johnson, but filtered through the lens of somebody who has actually gotten in the van.”— Jason Diamond, author of Searching for John Hughes and The Sprawl