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Netherland

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  16,691 ratings  ·  2,433 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
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 7th 2009 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2008)
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3.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,691 ratings  ·  2,433 reviews


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Edan
Aug 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  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 16, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  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
Jul 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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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Will Byrnes
Sep 15, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brooklyn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Glenn Sumi
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was ok


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’ve recently read.

In a New York City still recovering fr
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Ken-ichi
Dec 25, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: snoot, xmas2009
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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Yulia
Aug 06, 2008 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
Steve
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Lauren
May 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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Paul Bryant
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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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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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 read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Beth
May 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
KnowWhatILike
Dec 15, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  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
David Lentz
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Rebecca
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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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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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Lee
May 16, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Marc
May 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read. I will give a complete review on it tomorrow.
Enjo and Be Blessed.
Diamond
Ryan Chapman
Oct 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
...more
Chris
Aug 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nathan Oates
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bobby
Jun 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Vincent
May 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Janet
Sep 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 just couldn't care less, even after being told about
...more
Paul
May 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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
Tony
Dec 11, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mark Joyce
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love cricket (around which much of the book revolves), live in The Hague (where a big chunk of the back story is set) and am fascinated by New York (where most of the action takes place), so not surprisingly there was lots in here I enjoyed. The central character Hans is a rather detached, analytical type, which I can also relate to. I found him interesting up to a point but somewhat cold and emotionally flat, which is probably what people say about me behind my back. I found the two main supp ...more
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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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“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.” 18 likes
“Perhaps the relevant truth is that we all find ourselves in temporal currents and that unless you're paying attention you'll discover, often too late, that an undertow of weeks or of years has pulled you deep into trouble.” 12 likes
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