Reviewed on Richard & Judy's Book Club 2009 on Wednesday 4 March.
We loved reading this book. It is the story about a Dutchman and New York and cricket. But don't worry if you're not interested in Dutchmen, New York or cricket. This book provides a beautifully written insight into the mind of the protagonist, Hans van den Broek. The essence of the story is his exploration into the importance of friendship and human relationships versus the shallowness of his money-grabbing job in a Wall Street bank - which makes the timing of the book as brilliant as the writing. Our only negative is the rather weak pun in the title 'Netherland' because yes, we know Dutchmen come from the Netherlands but no, we don't think Hans faces a neither-here-nor-there dilemma. O'Neill writes wonderfully about real people in the real world struggling to make a living against the shallowness of the financial markets. His story is real and his values are right - as you will find in this book and as we all know now.
In London, a Dutch banker named Hans van den Broek hears the news, and remembers his unlikely friendship with Chuck and the off-kilter New York in which it flourished: the New York of 9/11, the powercut and the Iraq war. Those years were difficult for Hans – his English wife Rachel left with their son after the attack, as if that event revealed the cracks and silences in their marriage, and he spent two strange years in New York’s Chelsea Hotel, passing stranger evenings with the eccentric residents. Lost in a country he'd regarded as his new home, Hans sought comfort in a most alien place – the thriving but almost invisible world of New York cricket, in which immigrants from Asia and the West Indies play a beautiful, mystifying game on the city's most marginal parks. It was during these games that Hans befriends Chuck Ramkissoon, who dreamed of establishing the city's first proper cricket field. Over the course of a summer, Hans grew to share Chuck's dream and Chuck's sense of American possibility – until he began to glimpse the darker meaning of his new friend's activities and ambitions. ‘Netherland’ is a novel of belonging and not belonging, and the uneasy state in between. It is a novel of a marriage foundering and recuperating, and of the shallows and depths of male friendship. With it, Joseph O'Neill has taken the anxieties and uncertainties of our new century and fashioned a work of extraordinary beauty and brilliance.
Closing date: 07/09/2018
‘[I have] not read anything that quite so brilliantly captured the exuberant madness and cultural diversity of [New York].’ Jeremy Paxman, Guardian (Books of the Year)
‘There is a very special sort of gratitude you can feel for a book that is so formidably written that it has you anxious to get back to it and pining a little bit to be away from it .’ Sebastian Barry, Guardian (Books of the Year)
Publication date: 05/01/2009
Publisher: Harpercollins Publishers
|Publication date:||5th January 2009|
|Genres:||eBook Favourites, Literary Fiction,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
Joseph O’Neill is an Irish barrister living in New York. He is the author of three previous novels, Netherland (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008), This Is the Life and The Breezes, as well as a memoir, Blood Dark Track.More About Joseph O'neill