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Joseph O'Neill
Born 1964
Cork, Ireland Republic of Ireland
Occupation lawyer, fiction writer, cultural critic
Writing period 1991-present

Joseph O'Neill (born 1964 in Cork, Ireland) is a novelist and non-fiction writer. O'Neill's novel Netherland was awarded the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.[1]



O'Neill, who has half-Irish and half-Turkish ancestry,[2] was born in Cork Ireland, in 1964. O'Neill's parents moved around much in O'Neill's youth, spending time in Mozambique as a toddler and Turkey until the age of four and also in Iran[3]. From the age of twelve O'Neill grew up in The Netherlands, where he attended boarding school at The Hague. He read law at Girton College, Cambridge, preferring it over English because "literature was too precious" and he wanted it to remain a hobby. O'Neill started off his literary career in poetry, however he ceased this at the age of 24 [4]. After a year off to write his first novel, O'Neill became a barrister at the English Bar, where he practised for ten years at a barristers chambers in the Temple, principally in the field of business law. He is a member of chambers at 3 Hare Court.[5]

He is married to Vogue editor Sally Singer, who rejected his second novel when she was working as an editor at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. They live in the Chelsea Hotel in New York with their three sons.

O'Neill speaks English, French and Dutch[6].


O'Neill is the author of three novels, the most recent of which, Netherland, was published in May 2008 and was featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review where it was called, "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".[7] It was also included in New York Times, list of 10 Best Books of 2008.[8] Literary critic James Wood called it "one of the most remarkable postcolonial books I have ever read". In an interview with the BBC in June 2009 US President Barack Obama revealed that he was reading it, describing it as "an excellent novel." Among the books on the longlist, it was the favourite to win the Man Booker Prize.[9] However, on September 9, 2008, the Booker nominee shortlist was announced, and the novel failed to make the list.[10] The book was also nominated for the Warwick Prize for Writing (2008/9) and made it to the long list of that prize announced in November 2008.

He is also the author of a non-fiction book, Blood-Dark Track: A Family History, which was a New York Times Notable Book for 2002 and a book of the year for the Economist and the Irish Times.

Additionally, O'Neill writes literary and cultural criticism, most regularly for the Atlantic Monthly.



  • This Is the Life (Faber & Faber; Farrar Straus & Giroux) (1991)
  • The Breezes (Faber & Faber) (1996)
  • Netherland (Pantheon; Fourth Estate) (2008)


  • Blood-Dark Track: A Family History (Granta Books) (2001)

Short fiction

Anthologized in:

  • Phoenix Irish Short Stories (ed. David Marcus) (1999)
  • Dislocation: Stories from a New Ireland (ed. Caroline Walsh) (Carroll & Graf) (2003)
  • Faber Book of Best New Irish Short Stories (ed. David Marcus) (Faber & Faber) (2007)



  1. ^ PEN/Faulkner Award Goes to Joseph O'Neill, The Washington Post, February 26, 2009
  2. ^ "Joseph O'Neill, The New Immigrant Experience". NPR. November 26, 2008.  
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Garner, Dwight (18 May 2008). "The Ashes". New York Times.  
  8. ^ "The 10 Best Books of 2008". New York Times. 3 December 2008.  
  9. ^ "Perfect delivery". The Guardian. September 7 2008.  
  10. ^ "Booker Prize Shortlist Is Announced". New York Times. 9 September 2008.  

External links

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