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.
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‘[I have] not read anything that quite so brilliantly captured the exuberant madness and cultural diversity of [New York].’ Jeremy Paxman, Guardian (Books of the Year)
‘There is a very special sort of gratitude you can feel for a book that is so formidably written that it has you anxious to get back to it and pining a little bit to be away from it .’ Sebastian Barry, Guardian (Books of the Year)
‘Dazzling…and told with great grace and daring.’ Kate Summerscale, Sunday Telegraph (Books of the Year)
‘The post-9/11 novel we’ve been waiting for: a witty, vivid, aphoristic, fiercely intelligent narrative.’ Philip French, Observer (Books of the Year)
‘Too good for the Booker.’ Robert McCrum, Observer (Books of the Year)
'"Netherland" is an affecting portrait of constrained love and loss, of cultural and emotional estrangement and of the difficulty of knowing others intimately…a piquant blend of vibrancy and elegy reminiscent of Paul Auster's writing.' FT
'”Netherland” is so expertly woven that it is impossible for a reader not to admire what it essentially is – a beautifully written exploration of memory and self.' Sunday Telegraph
'The wittiest, angriest, most exacting and most desolate work of fiction we've yet had about life in New York and London after the World Trade Centre fell. I devoured it in three thirsty gulps, gulps that satisfied a craving I didn't know I had. O'Neill seems incapable of composing a boring sentence or thinking an uninteresting thought.' New York Times
'Elegant and profound.' Sunday Times
'Extraordinary. O'Neill is a writer of dizzying elegance.' FT
'O'Neill's novel was nominated by critics as a book of the year more times than any other title in 2008, and it's not hard to see why. Its perceptiveness and lingering air of sadness will beguile you more powerfully than you may at first expect.' Robert Collins, The Sunday TimesFrom the Publisher:
'New York is not what most people imagine it to be. Just as marriage, family, friendship and manhood are not. Netherland is suspensful, artful, psychologically pitch-perfect, and a wonderful read. But more than any of that, it's revelatory. Joseph O'Neill has managed to paint the most famous city in the world, and the most familiar concept in the world (love) in an entirely new way.' Jonathan Safran Foer
`O'Neill writes a prose of Banvillean grace and beauty, shimmering with truthfulness, as poised as it unsettling. As well, this is a story that is hard to put down, for its characters are so real and their preoccupations so urgently of the now, that the book has the vividness of breaking news. He is a master of the long sentence, of the half-missed moment, of the strange archeology of the troubled marriage. Many have tried to write a great American novel. Joseph O'Neill has succeeded.' Joseph O'Connor
'Somewhere between the towns of Saul Bellow and Ian McEwan, O'Neill has pitched his miraculous tent ... The reader, almost imperceptibly, becomes little by little scorched by the novel's brilliance, irradiated by it, benignly." Sebastian Barry
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