Author(s): Joseph O'Neill
In early 2006, Chuck Ramkissoon is found dead at the bottom of a New York canal. In London, a Dutch banker named Hans van den Broek hears the news, and remembers his unlikely friendship with Chuck and the off-kilter New York in which it flourished: the New York of 9/11, the powercut and the Iraq war. Those years were difficult for Hans - his English wife Rachel left with their son after the attack, as if that event revealed the cracks and silences in their marriage, and he spent two strange years in New York's Chelsea Hotel, passing stranger evenings with the eccentric residents. Lost in a country he'd regarded as his new home, Hans sought comfort in a most alien place - the thriving but almost invisible world of New York cricket, in which immigrants from Asia and the West Indies play a beautiful, mystifying game on the city's most marginal parks. It was during these games that Hans befriends Chuck Ramkissoon, who dreamed of establishing the city's first proper cricket field. Over the course of a summer, Hans grew to share Chuck's dream and Chuck's sense of American possibility - until he began to glimpse the darker meaning of his new friend's activities and ambitions. 'Netherland' is a novel of belonging and not belonging, and the uneasy state in between. It is a novel of a marriage foundering and recuperating, and of the shallows and depths of male friendship. With it, Joseph O'Neill has taken the anxieties and uncertainties of our new century and fashioned a work of extraordinary beauty and brilliance.
Shortlisted for Galaxy British Book Awards: Richard and Judy's Best Read of the Year 2009.
'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 'O'Neill writes about cricket with an insider's knowledge and a metaphorical sweep. The result is the first great American novel underpinned by a deep understanding of the complexity of spin bowling. A novel full of vividly descriptive passages that possess a heightened, almost hallucinatory, brilliance. A great American novel with an ordinary European everyman at its centre.' Observer 'Elegant and profound' Sunday Times 'Extraordinary. O'Neill is a writer of dizzying elegance.' FT 'It is hard to know which is stranger - that a great American novel has been written about cricket, or that a great cricket novel should be set in America. But both are true. Netherland is ambitious, intelligent and deeply perceptive.' The Times '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
Joseph O'Neill is an Irish barrister living in New York. He is the author of two previous novels, 'This Is The Life' and 'The Breezes', and a memoir, 'Blood Dark Track'.