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4 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

Netherland

by

Netherland Cover

ISBN13: 9780307377043
ISBN10: 0307377040
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

 

Awards

The Rooster 2009 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee
2009 PEN/Faulkner Fiction Award Winner

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 charismatic and charming Trinidadian named Chuck Ramkissoon, begins to reconnect with his life and his adopted country. Ramkissoon, a Gatsby-like figure who is part idealist and part operator, introduces Hans to an "other" New York populated by immigrants and strivers of every race and nationality. Hans is alternately seduced and instructed by Chuck's particular brand of naivete and chutzpah — by his ability to a hold fast to a sense of American and human possibility in which Hans has come to lose faith.

Netherland gives us both a flawlessly drawn picture of a little-known New York and a story of much larger, and brilliantly achieved ambition: the grand strangeness and fading promise of 21st-century America from an outsider's vantage point, and the complicated relationship between the American dream and the particular dreamers. Most immediately, though, it is the story of one man — of a marriage foundering and recuperating in its mystery and ordinariness, of the shallows and depths of male friendship, of mourning and memory. Joseph O'Neill's prose, in its conscientiousness and beauty, involves us utterly in the struggle for meaning that governs any single life.

Review:

"Hans van den Broek, the Dutch-born narrator of O'Neill's dense, intelligent novel, observes of his friend, Chuck Ramkissoon, a self-mythologizing entrepreneur-gangster, that 'he never quite believed that people would sooner not have their understanding of the world blown up, even by Chuck Ramkissoon.' The image of one's understanding of the world being blown up is poignant — this is Hans's fate after 9/11. He and wife Rachel abandon their downtown loft, and, soon, Rachel leaves him behind at their temporary residence, the Chelsea Hotel, taking their son, Jake, back to London. Hans, an equities analyst, is at loose ends without Rachel, and in the two years he remains Rachel-less in New York City, he gets swept up by Chuck, a Trinidadian expatriate Hans meets at a cricket match. Chuck's dream is to build a cricket stadium in Brooklyn; in the meantime, he operates as a factotum for a Russian gangster. The unlikely (and doomed from the novel's outset) friendship rises and falls in tandem with Hans's marriage, which falls and then, gradually, rises again. O'Neill (This Is the Life) offers an outsider's view of New York bursting with wisdom, authenticity and a sobering jolt of realism." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

In Joseph O'Neill's third novel, "Netherland," there are two great love objects: the city of New York and the game of cricket. Hans van den Broek, the novel's Dutch narrator, seeks solace in both the place and the sport after September 11, 2001, when he finds himself adrift in the city. We know he watched the destruction on television in the midtown office where he works, that the trauma that followed... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

About the Author

Joseph O'Neill was born in Ireland and raised primarily in Holland. He received a law degree from Cambridge University and worked as a barrister in London. He writes regularly The Atlantic Monthly and is the author of two previous novels, This Is the Life and The Breezes, and a family history, Blood-Dark-Track, which was a New York Times Notable Book. He lives with his family in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Shannon Geiger, July 16, 2009 (view all comments by Shannon Geiger)
Joseph O'Neill uses lush language and knowledge of both New York and how people from other countries see it to create a beautiful story. The images he presents in this book stay with you long after you finish it. The comparisons to The Great Gatsby are warranted and accurate.
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(8 of 15 readers found this comment helpful)
Wendy Robards, April 8, 2009 (view all comments by Wendy Robards)
The protagonist of Joseph O’Neill’s latest novel is Hans, a wealthy banker living in the Chelsea Hotel in post-911 New York City. Rachel, Hans’ conflicted wife, abandons him to return to London with their child and leaves Hans to navigate his way through a city of immigrants, idealists, and whacky characters. It is not long before Hans discovers the little known, yet thriving culture of immigrant men who gather each week to bat and bowl their way through cricket games. One of these men is Chuck Ramkissoon - an immigrant from Trinidad who runs an illegal gambling operation, cheats on his wife with a scrapbooker, and dreams of creating The New York Cricket Club - a venture which he envisions making millions while introducing Americans to a ‘whole new chapter in U.S. history.'

Netherland explores the aftermath of 911 through the eyes of America’s immigrants who have come to America in pursuit of their dreams but find a country conflicted in the face of impending war with Iraq.

O’Neill uses Hans and Rachel’s marriage as a metaphor to explore fear, isolation, disaapointment and reconciliation as they separate and then come back together. Family and country are two intertwined themes as Hans tries to understand his own identity within the larger concept of community.

Although O’Neill’s writing is fluid and evokes a New York which most American’s will relate to, I found myself indifferent to Hans and his troubles. I liked the colorful and outgoing Chuck, but his ultimate fate left me thinking “so what?” I am not exactly sure why the character development left me cold in this novel - O’Neill certainly gives the reader plenty of background and insight into the two main characters - but, ultimately, I found them forgettable. There are also long passages about the game of cricket - a sport which I know next to nothing about - and these I found mostly boring.

At the end of the book, Hans is talking to a minor character who had considered funding Chuck’s idea for a cricket club in New York:

'“The New York Cricket Club,” Faruk says, raising his eyebrows, “was a splendid idea - a gymkhana in New York. We had a chance there. But would the big project have worked? No. There’s a limit to what Americans understand. The limit is cricket.”' - from Netherland, page 251 -

And this is pretty much how I felt about O’Neill’s novel. A good idea, but it did not work for me. Although this book has gotten some great reviews (including being recognized as a NYT Most Notable book in 2008), I wonder if many Americans will struggle as I did with a story which in large part centers around a sport which is not well-known in our country. Some readers might like this one.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307377043
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
O'Neill, Joseph
Publisher:
Pantheon
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20080520
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
9.3 x 5.9 x 1.07 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Morning News Tournament » Tournament of Books 2009
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Netherland Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.50 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Pantheon Books - English 9780307377043 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Hans van den Broek, the Dutch-born narrator of O'Neill's dense, intelligent novel, observes of his friend, Chuck Ramkissoon, a self-mythologizing entrepreneur-gangster, that 'he never quite believed that people would sooner not have their understanding of the world blown up, even by Chuck Ramkissoon.' The image of one's understanding of the world being blown up is poignant — this is Hans's fate after 9/11. He and wife Rachel abandon their downtown loft, and, soon, Rachel leaves him behind at their temporary residence, the Chelsea Hotel, taking their son, Jake, back to London. Hans, an equities analyst, is at loose ends without Rachel, and in the two years he remains Rachel-less in New York City, he gets swept up by Chuck, a Trinidadian expatriate Hans meets at a cricket match. Chuck's dream is to build a cricket stadium in Brooklyn; in the meantime, he operates as a factotum for a Russian gangster. The unlikely (and doomed from the novel's outset) friendship rises and falls in tandem with Hans's marriage, which falls and then, gradually, rises again. O'Neill (This Is the Life) offers an outsider's view of New York bursting with wisdom, authenticity and a sobering jolt of realism." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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