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Netherland

by Joseph O'Neill, Joseph O'Neill

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,4021553,872 (3.41)246
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.--From publisher description.… (more)
  1. 50
    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (heidialice)
  2. 31
    Saturday by Ian McEwan (thesearch)
    thesearch: Sleekly written intimate post 9/11 portraits.
  3. 00
    The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (sushidog, rjuris)
    sushidog: Perhaps an odd recommendation, but both novels explore a (temporary) immigrant's experience in America.
  4. 00
    Playing hard ball by E. T. Smith (Othemts)
  5. 00
    The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem (Othemts)
  6. 00
    Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  7. 00
    The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (jayne_charles)
    jayne_charles: Both have stunning writing making up for absence of plot, and common ground in terms of the immigrant experience in New York
  8. 01
    Man in the Dark by Paul Auster (rjuris)
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» See also 246 mentions

English (147)  Dutch (4)  German (2)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (155)
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
A number of themes run through this novel, any one of which a reader may find the most central. There is the American immigrant experience, both from the insider's and the outsider's point of view. Hans, who narrates the book, is the Dutch securities analyst who earns a fortune in the financial world. Chuck Ramkissoon is the black Trinidadian businessman who, in contrast to Hans, has to expend a great deal of effort to find the classic American Dream. New York City is where this unlikely pair can become friends, and where a man like Chuck can dream big and exercise a New Yorker's privilege, "holding yourself out in a way that, back home, would be taken as a misrepresentation."

There is the theme of post-9/11 New York, a place and time in which a city was knocked off balance, jarred out of its routine, and whose residents, for a time, at least, found a new way of interacting with each other. Many felt a bond with the city and their fellow New Yorkers that was new and even exhilarating as everyone looked out for each other, and empathy flourished. "I think for many of us it was one of the happiest times of our life", comments Chuck.

There is, as well, the theme of disappointment with a marriage, the inadequacies of love, but the ultimate salvaging of such relationships. Hans's marriage is the greater focus; his wife, Rachel, leaves him for London with their young son after a period of growing apart, after "cultivating a dutiful domesticity and maternal ethic that armored her in blamelessness, leaving me with no way to approach her, now way to find fault or feelings, waiting for me to lose heart, to put away my most human wants and expectations, to carry my burdens secretly... it was too great a disappointment, far better to get on with the chores, with the baby, with the work, far better to leave me to my own devices, as they say, to leave me to resign myself to certain motifs, to leave me to disappear guiltily into a hole of my own digging."

It is a brutal and painful portriat of a fading marriage, but O'Neill offers the hope of resurrection by bringing Rachel and Hans back together, they having decided that it seems right to be together, and not a bad thing to be so, Rachel realizing that she "felt a responsibility to see me through life, and the responsibility felt like a happy one", and Hans feeling the same.

Chuck finds another way deal with a staid marriage, taking a mistress so as to have a relationship of excitement, explaining to Hans his view of women, "After a certain point, their agenda changes. It's all about kids and housekeeping and what have you... We're the romantic sex, you know."

The reader is told from the beginning of the novel what its end will be, Hans and Rachel finding reconciliation and living in London, Chuck meeting a violent end brought about by having a finger in some unnamed, unsavory business activity. The novel is an erudite, at times too erudite at the expense of story, journey to that final point. ( )
  lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
surprisingly excellent writing. Avoids the usually cliches about immigrants. ( )
  monicaberger | Jan 22, 2024 |
This book is about a few things: New York City, immigrant communities, marriage, and cricket. The main character, Hans, is a bland kind of guy, but he's a good narrator. He moves backwards and forwards in time as he tells the story in a very cool and seamless way--the way, I think, that a lot of people actually tell long stories.

The review I read in the NYT made me think this was going to be about post-9/11 life in New York City, but that's not really what I took away from it. If anything, Hans made me think about the loneliness of being in a foreign city. He has no close friends, a troubled marriage, a detached way of looking at himself and the world. And then he gets drawn into this cricket community and ends up spending a lot of time with this mysterious Trinidadian businessman named Chuck Ramkissoon. When people compare this book to The Great Gatsby, they must be thinking of Chuck as Gatsby, which would make Hans Nick. If I were in college that is totally what I'd write my paper about.

( )
  LibrarianDest | Jan 3, 2024 |
Based on the rave review in The New York Times I expected to enjoy this book a lot more than I actually did. There were some excellent, not to mention beautiful, observations on the immigrant experience in New York City and some really excellent insights into the minds of New Yorkers after the attacks of 9/11. But overall I just found myself uninterested in most of the things the main character had to say about himself and his whole outlook on life. ( )
  kevinkevbo | Jul 14, 2023 |
3.5 stars. Love the outer borough details and the Dutch connection. Never that interested in the narrator's emotional life and marital ins and outs. ( )
  AlexThurman | Dec 26, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
added by AAGP | editSlate Audio Book Club (Jul 16, 2008)
 
...the narrative is unwieldily organised, the supporting characters are underdeveloped and the dialogue is often pretty bad....

The biggest problem, though, is Hans himself. In addition to being much less interesting than Chuck, he tells the story in a determinedly overambitious style....

O'Neill's take on the notion of the American dream is both unsentimental and cleverly attuned to that notion's grip on the local imagination. Perhaps stories of striving immigrants and America's ambiguous promise speak to New York reviewers on frequencies inaudible to outsiders. O'Neill has said that he wrote the book as "an American novel ... My first novel as an American novelist", and in this respect, he seems to have succeeded.
 
Netherland has been described variously as a "post-colonial" and a "Great American" novel. But this beguilingly subtle work transcends old geographical, political and temporal confinements as it renders the strange mutations, partial visions and bewilderments of our globalised world.
added by zhejw | editThe Guardain, Pankaj Mishra (Jun 6, 2008)
 
Despite cricket’s seeming irrelevance to America, the game makes his exquisitely written novel “Netherland” a large fictional achievement, and one of the most remarkable post-colonial books I have ever read.
added by zhejw | editThe New Yorker, James Wood (May 26, 2008)
 
...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 Center fell. On a micro level, it’s about a couple and their young son living in Lower Manhattan when the planes hit, and about the event’s rippling emotional aftermath in their lives. On a macro level, it’s about nearly everything: family, politics, identity. I devoured it in three thirsty gulps, gulps that satisfied a craving I didn’t know I had.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, Dwight Garner (May 18, 2008)
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
O'Neill, Josephprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
O'Neill, Josephmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Leistra, AukeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorpe, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I dream'd in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth;

I dream'd that was the new City of Friends.

Whitman
Dedication
To Sally
First words
The afternoon before I left London for New York - Rachel had flown out six weeks previously - I was in my cubicle at work, boxing up my possessions, when a senior vice president at the bank, an Englishman in his fifties, came to wish me well.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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.--From publisher description.

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Book description
Hans et Rachel vivent à New York avec leur jeune fils lorsque surviennent les attentats du 11 Septembre. Quelque jours plus tard , ils se séparent , et Hans se retrouvent seul , perdu dan Manhatatn , où il ne ent plus chez lui . Sur des terrains de fortune Hans tente d'echapper à la mélancolie . Ce très beau livre , souvent compare à Gatsby le Magnifique , est à la fois une parabole sur la findu rêve américain et un roman d'amour aux résonances poignantes.
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