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Netherland

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  13,011 ratings  ·  2,143 reviews
New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year

In a New York City made phantasmagorical by the events of 9/11, and left alone after his English wife and son return to London, Hans van den Broek 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 R
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ebook, 256 pages
Published May 20th 2008 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Edan
Nov 28, 2008 Edan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who have lived in New York.
Recommended to Edan by: Cory Garfin
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 never pulled me in; I never really felt inside of ...more
Joshua
Jul 23, 2008 Joshua rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
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 miserable existence? Perhaps I missed something.

Thi
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Cory
Aug 01, 2008 Cory rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who thrill at words
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 assimilated into, not to mention the vast universe of r
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Yulia
Aug 08, 2008 Yulia marked it as left-unfinished  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: criminal-intent
Mr. O'Neill, please don't condescend to explain to us the history of cricket in New York City, how our fields are all wrong but really have their own common charm; or tell us the aeteliogy of "aftermath," making a broad and awkward simile about how lawn mowing really does remind those who are inclined to make general observations (you) of memory, of how it keeps growing back not matter how much you want it to be tidy; or of how what passes for grass is not flagrant in the States and never well-m ...more
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 insecurity. What, exactly, am I not getting here?
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Will Byrnes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul
Man with megaphone : Bryant - stop reading now. Move away from the book, slowly.

Yes, this was a mistake, so here's a little warning for potential readers: this novel is about cricket! it really is. Cricket matches, cricket pitches, cricketers, crickety situations, cricket as a Metaphor for Life - given that I dislike sport as much as it dislikes me except maybe tennis and even that mostly sets my teeth on edge (Andy Murray in total monotone : "It was a really tough martch, he is a very tough op
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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.

Postcolonial, post 9/11: Isn't it all about finding
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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 to being lost and clueless. The more you read, though ...more
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 college days as if they'd happened to her that very mor
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Beth
Jun 23, 2008 Beth rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Beth by: New York Times Book Review
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 prose, deep psychological understanding, and philos ...more
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 his wife and son after a trial separation. He gets some sad news
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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 him to the New York immigrant subculture centering ...more
KnowWhatILike
Dec 15, 2008 KnowWhatILike rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: only to literary critics and to New Yorkers who seem to be infatuated with the descriptions of NYC.
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 the makings for a great novel? I think not, witho ...more
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 frozen that a reader can't find much to concern herse
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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 who writes beautiful sentence after sentence. i g ...more
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 uncommon and, indeed, is almost a trite concept for ...more
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 reading. But again, I really respected the prose 90% ...more
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 entrepreneurial spirit and dreams of transforming ...more
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 book doesn't quite hold together. I was far more inte ...more
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 cultural practice.

Netherland also boasts one of the
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Gail
I was torn between three and four stars for this book, but opted for four because this is a book that seems better the more you think about it after reading it. It's an excellent exposition of the waxing and waning of emotions in personal relationships, marriage in particular, and how central those emotions are to the human condition. It is very well written, but it did not grab me and hold onto me. Nor did I put it down and say: "Wow, that was really good." The paragraphs are way too long, some ...more
Tanuj Solanki
Netherland is one of the most reviewed novels in recent time. This is because of various reasons.

1> It appears to be a post-colonial novel, almost like a benign Naipaul looking to kick-start his literary career in the post 9/11 world

2> It marks a schism with the post-modern trend, in as much as it takes us back to the pleasures of the modern novel. It is Realism at its lyrical best.

I provide here two comments to substantiate my view

Zadie Smith in The New York Review of Books -

"For Netherla
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David
I listened to this book as an audiobook over the past couple months while folding laundry, washing dishes, and going for bike rides. Usually I stick to non-fiction for audiobooks, but Jefferson Mays' incredible narration of the most diverse set of characters imaginable -- the reserved Dutch narrator, his biting British wife, effusive Caribbean transplants in New York -- brings them to life. Chapter after chapter I couldn't decide if I was more impressed with the craftsmanship of O'Neill's senten ...more
Amanda
Sep 24, 2008 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: New Yorkers
Shelves: book-club
A beautiful portrait of life in New York -- yes, after 9/11, but this book is not about 9/11. Our narrator, Hans, is not-quite-Nick-Carroway, relates the events leading up to the death of his friend, a Trinidadian immigrant, cricket-loving, Brooklyn transplant and Gatsby stand-in, Chuck Ramkissoon. And while much has been made of how Netherland is about cricket, cricket is simply a part of the story, not the story. I don't know anything about cricket and I didn't have a problem with it's role. Y ...more
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 accomplishments in voice, storytelling, morality or scope.
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kira
Most big reviews I read of this book ahead of time made a big deal of the role of cricket in this book. Maybe I'm a special kind of reader (not necessarily in a good way), but I found it quite easy to quickly gloss over the detailed parts about cricket and still come away feeling as if I'd read a substantial, satisfying novel. This book is about the experiences of immigrants, of outsiders, of husbands and wives and parents, of New Yorkers, or transplants to New York. It's about living in New Yor ...more
Jim
O'Neill's prose would be the envy of any writer – it's subtle, emotionally precise, infused with a calm intelligence and is a pleasure to read. Nevertheless, I don't share the excitement or adulation critics have expressed for this novel about a Dutch emigrant in New York. As much as I enjoyed its finely expressed sense of nostalgia and bewilderment, I was never deeply engaged by its characters – with the exception of Rachael (the narrator's wife) whom I detested.
Olga
Not about cricket at all! I enjoyed it very much, although, maybe I would not have had the patience to read it (I listened to the audio version and found it lovely).
I am not a New Yorker (although wish I was...). But as an immigrant (from Russia), American for more than 30 yrs, and having lived in several states, and having traveled to many countries, I certainly related to the sense of not-quite-belonging. I enjoyed Hans's musings on what is American.
The family drama, separation, long-distance
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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 with ADHD. It delves into moments of the character ...more
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Would high schoolers like Netherland? 11 118 Jan 06, 2014 11:14AM  
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Joseph^O'Neill
There is more than one author with this name on Goodreads.

Joseph O'Neill was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1964 and grew up in Mozambique, South Africa, Iran, Turkey, and Holland. His previous works include the novels This is the Life and The Breezes, and the non-fiction book Blood-Dark Track, a family history centered on the mysterious imprisonment of both his grandfathers during World
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More about Joseph O'Neill...
The Dog Blood-Dark Track: A Family History This is the Life The Breezes The Manchester Martyrs

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“I felt shame - I see this clearly, now - at the instinctive recognition in myself of an awful enfeebling fatalism, a sense that the great outcomes were but randomly connected to our endeavors, that life was beyond mending, that love was loss, that nothing worth saying was sayable, that dullness was general, that disintegration was irresistible.” 11 likes
“We are in the realm not of logic but of wistfulness, and I must maintain that wistfulness is a respectable, serious condition. How, otherwise, to account for much of one's life?” 8 likes
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