Sunday, 15 June 2008

Book of the week and Bibliography - Joseph O'Neill, Netherland

Netherland is the third novel of Joseph O'Neill, who was born in Cork, Ireland in 1964 and grew up in The Netherlands. Signed copies are uncommon of the UK edition, but can be found with a little effort. Reviews in the US have been outstanding, and the novel has topped the best-seller list. UK reviews are rather more mixed, but this book does have the potential to become one of the landmark novels of the decade.

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 the 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 befriended 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.

O'Neill is a graduate of Girton College, Cambridge and a barrister (lawyer) at the English Bar, where he practiced for ten years, principally in the field of business law. He now lives in New York with his wife, Vogue editor Sally Singer, and their three sons. He is the author of three novels, a number of short stories and a non-fiction book, Blood-Dark Track: A Family History, which was a New York Times Notable Book for 2002 and a book of the year for the Economist and the Irish Times. He also writes literary and cultural criticism, most regularly for the Atlantic Monthly.


Netherland (Fourth Estate, 2008)
The Breezes (Faber and Faber, 1996)
This Is The Life (Faber and Faber, 1991)


Blood-Dark Track: A Family History (Granta Books, 2001)

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