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Netherland (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – May 7, 2009
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Joseph O’Neill was born in Ireland and raised in Holland. He received a law degree from Cambridge University and worked as a barrister in London. He writes regularly for The Atlantic Monthly and is the author of two previous novels, This Is the Life and The Breezes, and of a family history, Blood-Dark Track, which was a New York Times Notable Book. O'Neill received the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his third novel, Netherland. He lives with his family in New York City.
Question: President Obama mentioned in a New York Times Magazine profile that he’s reading Netherland. How do you feel about the President reading your book?
Joseph O'Neill: I'm very honored, of course.Question: How is the world of Netherland particular to the United States after 9/11?
Joseph O'Neill: The story takes place in the aftermath of 9/11. One of the things it does is try to evoke the disorientation and darkness of that time, which we only emerged from with the election of President Obama.Question: What is the importance of the sport of cricket in this book? Do you play?
Joseph O'Neill: I love sport and play cricket and golf myself. Sport is a wonderful way to bring together people who would otherwise have no connection to each other.Question: One of your reviewers calls Netherland an answer to The Great Gatsby. Were you influenced by Fitzgerald’s book, and was your book written with that book in mind?
Joseph O'Neill: Halfway through the book I realized with a slightly sinking feeling that the plot of Netherland was eerily reminiscent of the Gatsby plot: dreamer drowns, bystander remembers. But there are only about 5 plots in existence, so I didn't let it bother me too much. Fitzgerald thankfully steered clear of cricket.Question: Many reviewers have commented on the “voice” of this novel. How it is more a novel of voice than of plot? Do you agree with this?
Joseph O'Neill: Yes, I would agree with that comment. This is not a novel of eventful twists and turns. It is more like a long-form international cricket match (which can last for 5 days without a winner emerging), about nuance and ambiguity and small slippages of insight. And about language, of course.
(Photo © Lisa Acherman)--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
On one level, this is a novel of displacement. Having already relocated to London from Holland, Hans makes the further move to New York, where both he and Rachel prosper. But they have to evacuate their loft apartment after the attacks, and move into temporary quarters in the Chelsea Hotel, which is portrayed as an almost-surreal world unto itself. So Hans is essentially rootless before the story truly starts. By sheer chance, he stumbles upon the fact that cricket is played in New York by scratch teams of immigrants from former British colonies: Indians, Pakistanis, Caribbeans. Hans, who learned the game at an exclusive school in Holland, becomes the only white member of a team formed of taxi-drivers, store-keepers, and small businessmen, who offer him a kind of camaraderie that he cannot find among his professional colleagues.Read more ›
I feel the writing is uneven, mannered and more focused on the technical elements of the fiction rather than its substance. The narrator can be an annoying and petulant presence and when he bemoans the number of friends and acquaintances (not to mention his wife) who leave him or fail to maintain contact, it is not hard to understand why.
There were times when I wondered whether I wanted to finish it but abandoning a book in mid-read has been a rare occurrence for me. There was a redemption, of sorts, in the final chapter (the book is divided into three chapters.) The author began to write in a freer and more relaxed fashion and with greater emotion. It actually felt like someone else had picked up the pen or, at the least, the author had decided to get to the heart of the matter.
There may be a time when I am willing to give this book a second read but,overall, I see it only as a partially successful effort.
On the surface it is the story of its narrator, a banker named Hans van den Broek , born and raised in Netherlands, and working in London. While working in London in a bank, he meets an Englishwoman named Rachel and marries her. They have a son named Jake. In 1990's, they relocate to New York and live in TriBeCa. After the terrorist attack on the Word Trade Center on 9/11, however, they relocate again, and decide to live in the Chelsea Hotel. But Rachel's fear of another terrorist attack and the toxic political atmosphere in the United States create stress in their marriage, and the stress in turn compels Rachel to move with her son, once again, back to London.
Underneath this story, there is another story about a Trinidadian named Chuck Ramkissoon. Ramkissoon is a shady character. He runs a fraudulent and illegal numbers racket. But like many men, even a man from the under-world, he has big ambitions and a dream of starting a world-class cricket field and cricket club in Staten Island and of turning cricket into a national sport in America.
The third story inter-woven with the other two is the story of the game cricket itself and its ardent players at the Staten Island Cricket Club, immigrants from countries such as Sri Lanka, Trinidad, Bahamas, and other tropical countries. Mr. O'Neill weaves the three strands into a lovely braid, his lyrical prose serving as an adornment, like a rope of fragrant jasmine that often adorns a braid in tropical lands.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This novel is an example of what the novel can do, that the image, the moving image, the hyperlink still struggles to accomplish. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Jason Shrontz
It took a while for “Netherland” to hook me, partly because Hans is almost neutral as a narrator. As a reader, I didn’t often feel for him, which I like to do when I read. Read morePublished 21 days ago by SHR
In the aftermath of 9/11, a young English couple in NYC starts evaluating if they feel safe raising their young child here. Read morePublished 1 month ago by UK
I'm on page 30 and I'm not sure I'll get much further. Interesting that I've already read all of the excerpts in the rave reviews--perhaps this is as far as they got. Read morePublished 3 months ago by tatiana
The book doesn't really get started until halfway through. The writing is beautiful, but weightier than the characters.Published 6 months ago by Jennifer S. Gurss
Halfway through I considered putting the book down, second half was far better. Overall good book, mainly the post-9/11 NYC commentary.Published 6 months ago by BJT
It's been a while since I read this book, but I recall the plot being about a suburban family moving back the the father's small hometown. It wasn't a page turner for me.Published 10 months ago by J.Jay
The writer takes good care of his readers, introducing them to a sport most Americans know nothing about. Even if you're not a sports fan it's still a very good read. Read morePublished 10 months ago by W. Robinson