The American Dream took a beating in the aftermath of 9/ll. So did
the fortunes of the young family in O’Neill’s new novel, “Netherland”.
The Dutch banker, Hans van den Broeck, and his lawyer-wife had
moved from London and were happily settling in to New York City.
The violence and uncertainty drove the wife, and young son, back to
England, leaving Hans adrift in the Chelsea Hotel ,N.Y., to make new
friends and try to get his bearings.
These friends included a flamboyant Trinidadian, Chuck Ramkissoon,
who, among many business interests, had a passion for cricket and great
plans to build a New York Cricket Club. Hans had played the game as a
boy, and so he joined in for weekend matches, mostly on Staten Island,
and was the only white face on teams of Asians and West Indians.
The book gives a rivetting picture of this cricket subculture and a
rare look at an inside chapter of New York society. One of Chuck’s
business interests turns out to be gambling, and Hans becomes more
involved than he had expected.
Book Review by Anne McDougall
Joseph O’Neill was born in Ireland, grew up in Holland, lived and
worked in London, and so writes a very authentic quick-moving story
about all these places. The marriage in the novel founders and then
recovers and is sympathetically described.
O’Neill now lives with his family in New York City. This is his
third novel. He writes regularly for The Atlantic Monthly, and a
family history was a New York Times Notable Book.