Netherland by Joseph O’Neill


Netherland is a novel by Joseph O’Neill. It concerns the life of a Dutchman living in New York in the wake of the September 11 attacks who takes up cricket and starts playing at the Staten Island Cricket Club.

The story follows Hans van den Broek, a Dutch financial analyst in New York City, who undergoes a period of intense personal change as his adopted homeland grapples with the large-scale changes wrought by the terrorist attacks.

A central theme in Netherland is identity, or more specifically, Hans’ sense of self, which O’Neill uses to discuss the impact of personal and social crises on individual beings. When Rachel tells Hans that their marriage is not working and that she is leaving him to return, with their son, to London, Hans feels like he has lost touch with his own identity.

This leads to a period of him wandering around New York without knowing who he really is, leading to his one-night stand with Danielle, his strange friendship with Chuck, and his immersion in cricketing subculture.

The book also explores themes of male friendship, mourning, memory, and family. It tells the story of a marriage foundering and recuperating in its mystery and ordinariness, of the shallows and depths of male friendship, and of the emotional aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

What I Liked

I mean, it’s fine. It was a good read. I liked the setting. I really want to learn cricket now.

What I Did Not Like

Ok, this book did not live up to some of the reviews that I read. It also has a bit of a navel-gazing quality to it.

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