Thursday, June 24, 2010

Netherland by Joseph O'Neill

I've had this book for a while but have just gotten around to reading it. It takes place in New York City in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The narrator, Hans van den Broek, is a Dutchman that begins playing at the Staten Island Cricket Club, having rediscovered his childhood passion. He and his English wife, Rachel, have moved to New York in 1998 so that he can work at the NY Stock Exchange as a broker and she can work as a lawyer in the New York Branch of her law firm. They bring a young son, Jake, along with them.

During one of his very first matches, Hans meets Chuck Ramkissoon, a Trinidadian immigrant and businessman who is obsessed with bringing cricket to the mass market in America, mostly by building a tremendous stadium in the outer boroughs of New York. As Hans and Chuck became closer, Hans begins to accompany Chuck around the city. Hans, whose marriage has failed (Rachel has returned to England with Jake), believes that the trips are so that he can practice his driving as he is insistent upon getting an American driving license. He soon realizes that the trips that he takes with Chuck are so that Chuck can engage in murky, sketchy business practices. Eventually, Hans opts to return to England to salvage his marriage but learns a year or two later that Chuck was murdered and his body found floating in a local river.

It took me a while to get into this book.  O'Neill's long sentences take a little bit to get used to so at the beginning, I had to begin sentences over again. But once I got used to his ebb and flow of writing, I found it really wonderful and entertaining to read. I really enjoyed the themes that O'Neill presented as well - family and identity in foreign places.

Go out and get this book immediately!

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