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 ...cricket in this novel is much more than these associations... Most poignantly, for one of the characters in the novel cricket is an American dream, or perhaps a dream of America... This is attentive, rich prose about New York in crisis that, refreshingly, is not also prose in crisis: it’s not overwrought or solipsistic or puerile or sentimental, or otherwise straining to be noticed ...if Netherland pays homage to The Great Gatsby, it is also in some kind of knowing relationship with A House for Mr. Biswas. These are large interlocutors, but Netherland has an ideological intricacy, a deep human wisdom, and prose grand enough to dare the comparison.
In Joseph O'Neill's third novel, Netherland, there are two great love objects: the city of New York and the game of cricket. Hans van den Broek, the novel's Dutch narrator, seeks solace in both the place and the sport after September 11, 2001, when he finds himself adrift in the city ...doesn't turn on plot. In both form and content, it questions the idea that a life can be told as a coherent story. It is organized not chronologically but as a series of memories linked by associations ... Through the voices of his characters, O'Neill articulates the problem of a narrative self ... Always sensitive and intelligent, Netherland tells the fragmented story of a man in exile — from home, family and, most poignantly, from himself.
This compact novel, in which an emotionally buttoned-down new arrival recounts the downfall of another recent transplant who is, by contrast with him, an extravagant dreamer, has won admiring comparisons to that most American of novels, The Great Gatsby ... In Netherland, narrator and author appear to have the identical prospect before their mind’s eye, but their mind’s eyesight, as it were, remains obstinately farsighted, so that distant but well-defined figures...appear stamped against an indistinct middle ground dominated by the vaguely looming, obscurely perceived shapes of Hans’s work and family ... Without question, Netherland is the product of real intelligence and design, and an unusually well-written book at that, even if the prose shows more belletristic expertise than it does the features of a true individual style.
...a novel about post-Sept. 11 New York City as viewed through the scrim of F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece, The Great Gatsby. Gatsby is the great American novel about dreaming, overreaching and loss, but many people forget that it's also a great novel about New York City, which stands in for the idea of America in the novel ... We live in a permanent state of aftermath. Which is where Joseph O'Neill's marvelous novel Netherland begins ... O'Neill is a wide-ranging stylist capable of whipping out unexpected but precisely right words like 'peregrinating.' He's also adroit at muted comedy...The Great Gatsby itself has become something of a 'green light' for novelists — a literary ideal to be reached for but never quite grasped. O'Neill in Netherland runs faster, stretches out his arms farther and approaches the glow of greatness.
'What do they know of America who only America know?' ... In Netherland, O'Neill asks the same question, aiming to use cricket as it's played in New York to reveal fresh permutations of the national story that America tells itself ...the novel — published here with no particular fanfare — is now riding a juggernaut of transatlantic hype ... O'Neill clearly knows this world inside out, and he details its workings with great specificity as well as a feeling for its symbolic heft. On the other hand, the narrative is unwieldily organised, the supporting characters are underdeveloped and the dialogue is often pretty bad ...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.
...Americans tend to be baffled by this most English of sports, leaving it to be practiced by immigrants from other former British colonies (and the occasional Anglophile), as Joseph O’Neill details in his strikingly written new novel, Netherland ...it’s a precisely rendered examination of the existential malaise experienced by certain city dwellers after the attacks ... In addition, it’s a loving depiction of New York as seen through the eyes of a perpetual outsider ...a sad but generous look at the effects of aftermath on a human life, whether one is grappling with a personal tragedy or horror on a grand scale.
Now along comes Joseph O'Neill with a subtler, quieter tale of New York after the towers fell. Elegant, luminous and moving, Netherland tells the story of a shaken city, an imploding marriage and a man's struggle to connect with fellow human beings ... In O'Neill's deft hands, cricket becomes a well-wrought metaphor for an unknown history (Benjamin Franklin played cricket) and an invisible population ... O'Neill is one smart novelist, slyly constructing Hans as a Henry James innocent, only this naive protagonist is not an American yahoo encountering European sophistication but a European lost in the imperial city of the 21st century, trying to navigate its tricky ethics, sexual conventions and social intricacies ... Like one of those deceptively simple landscape paintings by Bruegel the Elder, Netherland contains multitudes of meaning.
...O'Neill certainly understands the feeling of estrangement from one's own country as well as the feeling of being an alien in one's adopted homeland. The symbolism of exile is apparent throughout this elegiac, thoughtfully-paced novel... The city itself is practically a character in the novel, described alternately by Hans, the narrator, with grudging admiration, genuine fondness and a sense of loss as he prepares to leave the city forever ...not only point to a profoundly observant understanding of the city but also mirror Hans's shifting consciousness ...meticulous details, heavy self-reflection and at times ponderous pace, may not be a novel for everyone, it will speak strongly to those who value carefully crafted sentences, wise observations and moments of startling insight.
...challenging novel set largely in post-9/11 New York City ... Dutch banker Hans, who narrates the story from the perspective of 2006, and his British wife Rachel, a lawyer, get more than they bargain for when they transfer their jobs from London to Manhattan for an American experience. After the World Trade Center bombing, they move out of their Tribeca loft into the Hotel Chelsea... Distraught and lonely, he joins a Cricket league made up mostly of Asian and Caribbean immigrants. Soon he (along with the reader) falls under the sway of Chuck Ramkissoon, a Trinidadian umpire ... Throughout, O’Neill plays with the nature of time and memory... This love story about a friendship, a place and a marriage is not easy to read, but it’s even harder to stop thinking about.