|Publication date||January 5, 2009|
|Preceded by||The Breezes|
Netherland (2008) is a critically acclaimed 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 narrator, Hans van den Broek, a Dutch stockbroker moves from London to New York with his English wife Rachel, who is a lawyer, and young son Jake in 1998. The couple intend to stay for a year or two, but after their traumatic experience of 9/11, Hans becomes estranged from his wife who moves back to London with their son. Alone in the city, Hans returns to his childhood love of cricket and plays with a team of marginalized immigrants including Chuck Ramkissoon, a charismatic Trinidadian entrepreneur. Hans is initially beguiled by Chuck's ambition to build a stadium in New York devoted to cricket, bringing the game to to a mass American market. But as Hans accompanies Chuck on trips around New York, he realises that Chuck is involved in a number of gambling schemes and criminal rackets. Becoming disenchanted with his friend and with life in New York. Hans returns to London to try to salvage his marriage. Two years later, he learns that Chuck Ramkissoon has been murdered in murky circumstances.
Netherland was published in May 2008 and was featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review where Dwight Garner (NYTBR senior editor) called it "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". Later that year, the book was included in the prestigious New York Times Book Review list of "10 Best Books of 2008" as chosen by the paper's editors.
James Wood, writing in the New Yorker, called it "one of the most remarkable postcolonial books I have ever read". He wrote that it has been "consistently misread as a 9/11 novel, which stints what is most remarkable about it: that it is a postcolonial re-writing of The Great Gatsby." In an interview with the author published at the end of the Harper Perennial paperback edition, Joseph O'Neill remarks, "Clearly Netherland is having some sort of conversation with The Great Gatsby—saying goodbye to it perhaps, and and to some of the notions associated with that wonderful book."
In the weeks leading up the announcement of the 2008 Man Booker Prize, Netherland was spoken of by some literary pundits as being the favourite to win. However, on September 9, 2008, the Booker nominee shortlist was announced and the novel, surprisingly at least for some critics at the New York Times, failed to make the list. 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.
Netherland won the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
The punning title is untranslatable into Dutch, and the Dutch translation takes the title Laagland ("Lowland") rather than the more literal but ambiguous Nederland.