Netherland by Joseph O'Neill


In a New York City made phantasmagorical by the events of 9/11, Hans--a banker originally from the Netherlands--finds himself marooned among the strange occupants of the Chelsea Hotel after his English wife and son return to London. Alone and untethered, feeling lost in the country he had come to regard as home, Hans stumbles upon the vibrant New York subculture of cricket, where he revisits his lost childhood and, thanks to a friendship with a c...

Details Netherland

Release DateMay 20th, 2008
GenreFiction, Novels, New York, Contemporary, Literary Fiction

Reviews Netherland

  • Edan
    I want to say something about this novel because although it impressed me and I respected O'Neill's skills as a writer, I didn't find it that enjoyable. There's a pleasing boldness to the syntax and diction, and there were a few passages that felt, well, wise, and when I gave myself some time to really dig into the text, I was impressed by the fluid time shifts and how the story felt unstructured and impeccably structured at once. But, the novel ...
  • Joshua
    Am I the only one who didn't like this book? I rarely if ever give up on a book, but if I wasn't reading this for a book club, I would have stopped reading early on. The main character is boring, dry and unmotivated. He doesn't seem to care much about anything, so why should we? Aren't books supposed to be about the most exciting/scary/miserable/wonderful parts of the character's lives, not the drudgery of day-to-day, ho-hum slogging through a mi...
  • Cory
    Beautiful. At times, devastating.Firstly: this book is not about the sport of cricket, so if that's at all a hindrance to your reading it, let that go. Sure there's some talk of the game and its particulars, and it creates a central catalyst from which the action of the story takes place, but it is about so much more: the city of New York post 9/11, the state of being lost, and the nation one comes from, goes to, and feels an outsider of or assim...
  • Will Byrnes
    Chuck is dead. The rest is flashback. Hans van den Broek is from Holland, but lives in New York City circa 9/11 with his British wife. He is a successful equities trader with plenty of money, and an abiding love for cricket. After 9/11 his wife returns to London with their child, leaving not only New York, but her husband. Lonely and a bit lost, Hans gets involved playing cricket, forming a family for himself, a community at least. O’Neill writ...
  • Glenn Sumi
    I know many people loved this book. It made several “best of the year” lists when it was published in 2008 and won the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award. More than one reviewer I respect compared it to The Great Gatsby. Yes, author Joseph O’Neill certainly knows how to write a gorgeous sentence or two, and the last few pages have an elegiac, Gatsby-like quality.But I found Netherland a slog, one of the longest, most pointless 250-page novels I...
  • Ken-ichi
    I don't know, I might get back to this. I like the side characters, the writing is nice, but God, middle aged apathy and anomie is just about the most boring subject imaginable, pretty much on par with teenage vampire romance.Later...After sampling the praise heaped upon this novel by the literary establishment (and at least one of my more literarily-inclined friends), sitting down and reading it did nothing to assuage my acute sense of literary ...
  • Steve
    If you feel culturally discombobulated reading this most recent book by Joseph O’Neill (the prize-winning half-Irish, half-Turkish writer) narrated by Hans (the Dutch investment analyst working in New York by way of London) whose two main topics are cricket (as played by ex-pat West Indians) and his wife (the Venusian to his Martian), that may have been part of the point. Hans doesn’t feel completely at home in any of his worlds. He confesses...
  • Lauren
    It's really too late to talk about this book, but I had to finish it tonight and that should say it all. The loneliness of New York (and let's face it: modern life or whatever that means to you) is so palpable in this book. Chuck and Hans are two unlikely friends, thrown together in a post 9/11 New York, out of step with their families and connected by a love of cricket. This connection makes up for the wayward actions played out by these men. Po...
  • Megan Baxter
    I don't get it. I like to flatter myself that I'm not a particularly unperceptive reader, but when it comes to this book, I don't get it. I don't get anything about it. I don't hate it, but I have no idea what this book is about. I have no idea why it won so many prizes.Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can rea...
  • Beth
    Netherland received much pre-release praise and deservedly. If Netherland is not a masterpiece, and I certainly am not saying it is not, then Joseph O'Neill is at the very least a masterful writer. Reading this book is like being taken on a treasure hunt through New York; London; The Netherlands; the game of Cricket; and mostly, love, loneliness, and loss. Drift along O'Neill's stream of consciousness and you'll be treated to gems of glittering p...
  • Kristen
    This Booker Award nominee has all the makings of a favorite book for me-- a lonely man searching for his purpose in life. I love understated, quiet novels that force readers to look at everyday happenings and interactions in a different way. And this book started off lovely with passages like this: Some people have no difficulty in identifying with their younger incarnations: Rachel, for example, will refer to episodes from her childhood or colle...
  • KnowWhatILike
    I should have counted the words I ought to have looked-up while reading Joseph O'Neil's "Netherland." They must have numbered at least one hundred. Not a bad trick to play on someone with a masters degree from an Ivy League university. Also, there were those inordinately complex sentences that I needed to reread at least three times to get a glimmering of their meaning. Perhaps, an English professor's dream and the basis for a literary essay. But...
  • David Lentz
    The writing style of Joseph O'Neill is a pure, unadulterated joy to read: every word is thoughtfully and creatively placed into the intelligent narrative voice. The novel deals with a man's personal efforts on many fronts to understand intimately those aspects of his life which are significant but distant -- remotely just beyond or nether to his grasp. The protagonist, Hans, seeks to wrap his arms around the great city of New York, which is not u...
  • Jessica
    This book, somewhat reminiscent of Ian McEwan's book Saturday, tells the story of Hans, a banker originally from The Hague, and late of London, who lives in New York with his lawyer wife, Rachel, and their small son until the events of 9/11 sour Rachel on their New York life and she and the little boy return to London. Hans, finding himself adrift in the city, living at the Chelsea Hotel, is befriended by a Trinidadian businessman who introduces ...
  • Gregory Baird
    “How do you re-imagine your life?” When I first read about “Netherland” it was presented as a 9/11 novel. This is not entirely the case. In fact, 9/11 the day barely figures into the plotline at all – it is the tumultuous after-effects of 9/11 that are explored in Joseph O’Neill’s infinitely clever, if flawed, novel. At the outset we meet Hans van den Broek in present-day London, where he has recently relocated in order to rejoin hi...
  • Lee
    An admirable (more than enviable) read? I really admired the prose at times, especially when describing NYC. Learned a lot about cricket, too. But didn't quite believe in Chuck or even the narrator, felt the author breathing life into a seam in the back of his characters' necks. Didn't love that the narrator makes $10,000 each working day, or has $2 million in savings. Didn't laugh or smile or chortle at much of anything. Made few noises while re...
  • Rebecca
    I'm befuddled about why this book did so well--the only reason I'm still reading it is because I assume something amazing must happen in the middle of it? Or, thousands of readers secretly want to be cricket players? There are some lovely descriptions of New York, but that alone isn't enough to make a book for me--there is a lack of animation here that casts a pall over the entire thing. Yes, this character is somewhat frozen--but if he is so fro...
  • Marc
    A solid 2.5 stars. Parts I really liked and several parts where I was just calculating how many pages were left. Some really great writing but the overall story seemed muddled. Like mixing the idea of love, cricket, immigration, and 9/11 together into a drink where they still taste like separate ingredients. Maybe the main character was just a little too numb for me. He didn't seem to care, so why should I?
  • Steven Walle
    An interesting read. I will give a complete review on it tomorrow.Enjo and Be Blessed.Diamond
  • Ryan Chapman
    I suppose it would be a compliment to the author that his prose is so shimmering and note-perfect that I am acutely self-conscious of even my own words in reviewing his novel. It's almost a call-to-arms, this slim book on post-9/11 New York informing us, "Yes, books can be this intelligent and unassuming, still."What's most striking is the way in which Netherland is impressive: the "great" books of the past few years have showcased major accompli...
  • Chris
    purchased this book off big hype id been reading about it. another post 9/11 book about new york (it seems like thats all i read these days!) that deals with one man's coping (or lack thereof) after his family returns to london after the towers fell. couldnt really get into it after the first 100 pages or so - i could only read so much about cricket - but i found the more i read, the more i liked. o'neill comes across as a very intelligent author...
  • Nathan Oates
    This much praised novel was one of the recent books I was eager to read and, just as the reviewers promised, it is full of beautiful writing and elegant mediations on post-9/11 America and the role of sport in our lives. The best passages of the book were those about cricket and in these pages O'Neill manages to capture the beauty and elegance of the communities sport engenders in a way I've not seen before in fiction. In the end, though, the boo...
  • Bobby
    The novel follows Hans van den Broek, a Dutch banker now working in New York City. After being forced out of their Manhattan loft because of their proximity to the 9/11 events, Hans's fearful wife promptly leaves with his son to return to her native London. Through seemingly serendipitous encounters, Hans becomes consumed with the hidden community of West Indian cricket and more specifically with Chuck Ramkissoon, a mysterious Trinidadian with an...
  • Vincent
    Terrific novel about post 9/11 New York from an outsider's perspective. While the cricket theme is at times stretched to accommodate more than it seems capable, Netherland remains a creative and unexpected extended metaphor for the fluid nature of "American culture"--which is, precisely and paradoxically, the absence of a coherent culture as such--and its methods of acknowledging, accommodating and ultimately adapting to new strands of foreign cu...
  • Janet
    3/4 the way done with this. Reading it while sick--just after Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Interesting 'bookends'--Girl was badly written but a moderately compelling story, while Netherland is a completely uninteresting story packed with gorgeous writing and wonderful insights into our contemporary life and marriage, as well the secret life of diaspora culture in New York City. Alas, more than half the book is about the game of cricket, and I jus...
  • Paul
    I hesitate to judge this book because I stopped midway through it. I hate quitting on a book, especially one considered to be the second coming of "The Great Gatsby," but I just don't have the confidence that I will ever get into it. From the get-go, it was hard for me to follow its meandering narrative. It constantly jumps to different time periods, going back and forth between memories, and dreams, and the present situation, like a storyteller ...
  • Tony
    There are some very intelligent observations and writing here but the main, several storylines never really merged for me. I liked his quintessential descriptions of the rudeness and uncaring nature of American municipal clerks. But, cricket is for dweebs. The players play, but form no personal attachments. Kind of how I feel about this book. I rushed to the end.