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 the 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 befriended 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.
Reviews of Netherland
- ‘O’Neill writes about cricket not with Beckettian economy, but with an insider’s knowledge and a metaphorical sweep that recalls John Updike’s paeans to basketball that run like an elegy for lost youth, and lost American innocence, though his epic series of Rabbit novels…a novel full of vividly descriptive passages that posses a heightened, almost hallucinatory, brilliance…Perhaps what O’Neill has written here is indeed a novel that meditates on the Great American Dream. “Netherland” certainly has the scope and sweep of such an epic undertaking…In a work that constantly echoes but never imitates, novels by Updike, Ford and yes, Fitzgerald, Joseph O’Neill has created in Hans van den Broek an unlikely hero for our uncertain times. A great American novel, then, but one with an ordinary European Everyman at its centre.’ Observer
- ‘A great American novel, but one with an ordinary European Everyman at its centre.’ Sean O’Hagan, Observer
- ‘An exquisitely written novel, a large fictional achievement, and one of the most remarkable post-colonial books I have ever read’ James Wood, New Yorker
- ‘An extraordinary novel … O’Neill is a writer of dizzying elegance.’ Daniel Swift, Financial Times
- ‘Joseph O’Neill’s brilliant, haunting new novel.’ Telegraph
- ‘Joseph O’Neill’s beautiful new novel.’ Pankaj Mishra, Guardian
- ‘A stunning new novel’ Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
- ‘A remarkable new novel’ Declan Hughes, Irish Times
- ‘Touched by greatness’ Ed Caesar, Sunday Times
- ‘It is hard to know which is stranger – that a great American novel has been written about cricket or that a great cricket novel should be set in America. But both are true. Netherland, a state-of-the-nation exploration of contemporary America, is ambitious, intelligent and deeply perceptive…whether a huge six or a home run – whatever the metaphor of your choice Netherland – comes right out of the middle of the bat.’ Ed Smith, The Times
- ‘A captivating new novel.’ Alan Hollinghurst, New York Review of Books