Joseph O'Neill (writer, born 1964)

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Joseph O'Neill
O'Neill at the 2010 Texas Book Festival
O'Neill at the 2010 Texas Book Festival
Born (1964-02-23) 23 February 1964 (age 54)
Cork, Ireland
Occupation lawyer, fiction writer, cultural critic
Period 1991–present

Joseph O'Neill is an Irish novelist and non-fiction writer. O'Neill's novel Netherland was awarded the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.[1]

Early life[edit]

Joseph O'Neill was born in Cork, Ireland, on February 23, 1964. [2] [3] He is of half-Irish and half-Turkish ancestry.[4]

O'Neill's parents moved around much in O'Neill's youth: O'Neill spent time in Mozambique as a toddler and in Turkey until the age of four, and he also lived in Iran.[3] From the age of six, O'Neill lived in the Netherlands, where he attended the Lycée français de La Haye and the British School in the Netherlands. 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 but had turned away from it by the age of 24.[3] After being called to the English Bar in 1987, he spent a year writing his first novel. O'Neill then entered full-time practice as a barrister in London, principally in the field of business law.[5] Since 1998 he has lived in New York City.



O'Neill is the author of four novels. 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".[6] It was also included in The New York Times list of the 10 Best Books of 2008.[7] 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."[8]

Among the books on the longlist, it was the favourite to win the Man Booker Prize.[9] However, on 9 September 2008, the Booker nominee shortlist was announced, and the novel failed to make the list.[10] The book received the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction[11] and the 2009 Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award.[12]

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 has written literary and cultural criticism, most regularly for The Atlantic Monthly.

His latest novel, The Dog, released in September 2014, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction [13] and named a Notable Book of 2014 by The New York Times.[14]

His short stories have been anthologised in:

  • New Irish Short Stories (ed. Joseph O'Connor) (Faber & Faber) (2011)
  • Faber Book of Best New Irish Short Stories (ed. David Marcus) (Faber & Faber) (2007)
  • Dislocation: Stories from a New Ireland (ed. Caroline Walsh) (Carroll & Graf) (2003)
  • Phoenix Irish Short Stories (ed. David Marcus) (Phoenix) (1999)


He is the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Written Arts at Bard College. [15]

Personal life[edit]

O'Neill speaks English, French and Dutch.[3] He played club cricket in the Netherlands and the UK, and has played for many years at the Staten Island Cricket Club, much like his Netherland protagonist Hans.[16] His love of cricket continues and he is an active player (as of 2015).[17] In an interview with The Paris Review in 2014 O'Neill said, explaining his interest in writing about Dubai in The Dog, "I’ve moved around so much and lived in so many different places that I don’t really belong to a particular place, and so I have little option but to seek out dramatic situations that I might have a chance of understanding."[18]



  • The Dog (Pantheon; Fourth Estate) (2014)
  • Netherland (Pantheon; Fourth Estate) (2008)
  • The Breezes (Faber & Faber) (1996)
  • This Is the Life (Faber & Faber; Farrar Straus & Giroux) (1991)

Short fiction[edit]

  • Good Trouble (2018) [19]
Title Year First published Reprinted/collected Notes
The sinking of the Houston 2017 O'Neill, Joseph (October 30, 2017). "The sinking of the Houston". The New Yorker. 93 (34): 60–64. 
  • "Pardon Edward Snowden" The New Yorker, December 12, 2016[21]
  • "The Trusted Traveler" Harper's, May 20, 2016[22]
  • "The Referees". The New Yorker. September 1, 2014. 
  • "The World of Cheese". Harper's. 318 (1905): 61–68. Feb 2009. 


  • The Ascent of Man (Granta, issue 72, Winter 2000)
  • Blood-Dark Track: A Family History (Granta Books) (2001)


  1. ^ PEN/Faulkner Award Goes to Joseph O'Neill, The Washington Post, 26 February 2009
  2. ^ Joseph O'Neill, Blood-Dark Track: A Family History (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010) p15
  3. ^ a b c d Mark Sarvas (July 2009). "The Elegant Variation – The Joseph O'Neill Interview". The Elegant Variation. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Joseph O'Neill, The New Immigrant Experience". NPR. 26 November 2008. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Garner, Dwight (18 May 2008). "The Ashes". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ "The 10 Best Books of 2008". The New York Times. 3 December 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  8. ^ Webb, Justin (2 June 2009). "Obama Interview: the transcript". BBC. 
  9. ^ Anthony, Andrew (7 September 2008). "Perfect delivery". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  10. ^ Bosman, Julie (9 September 2008). "Booker Prize Shortlist Is Announced". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  11. ^
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  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Leonard, Tom (Feb 9, 2009). "Joseph O'Neill: 'I wasn't disappointed'". The Telegraph. Retrieved June 16, 2015. 
  17. ^ "The Essentials. Go, Ireland". The Cricket Monthly ESPN Cricinfo. June 2015. 
  18. ^ Lee, Jonathan (2014-10-03). "Nothing Happened: An Interview with Joseph O'Neill". Paris Review Daily. Retrieved 2016-01-10. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ Short stories unless otherwise noted.
  21. ^
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External links[edit]