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This article is about the novel. For the country, see Netherlands.
First edition cover
Author Joseph O'Neill
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher Harper Perennial
Publication date
5 January 2009
Media type Print
Pages 340 pp
ISBN 978-0-00-727570-0
OCLC 263294099
Preceded by The Breezes

Netherland (2008) is a 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.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

For while the protagonist, Hans van den Broek, chooses cricket as his refuge, there's a lot more going on here than the "sport of gentlemen". Hans is an immigrant – Dutch-born and now residing in Manhattan, with his wife and young son. He's desperate to fit in and goes through the whole rigmarole of gaining his US drivers' license, if only to become that little bit more embedded in the culture. Connecting with people who play cricket in New York is yet another way he can "connect", albeit with an immigrant underclass. And, tellingly, the one man with whom he forges a tentative friendship, Chuck Ramkissoon, winds up being pulled out of a New York canal in handcuffs.


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".[2] 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.[3]

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."[4] 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 to some of the notions associated with that wonderful book."[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

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.[6] However, on 9 September 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.[7] 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,[8] and the 2009 Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award.[9]

On 12 April 2010, Netherland was announced as one of the 8 novels on the shortlist for the 2010 Dublin Literary Award.

The novel had been rejected by every major publisher except one, Pantheon.


The punning title is untranslatable into Dutch, and the Dutch translation takes the title Laagland ("Lowland") rather than the more literal but ambiguous Nederland.


  1. ^ Reifer, Jodi Lee (12 June 2008). "GET OUT: Swingers club". Staten Island Advance. Retrieved 12 July 2009. 
  2. ^ Garner, Dwight (18 May 2008). "The Ashes". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ "The 10 Best Books of 2008". The New York Times. 3 December 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  4. ^ "James Wood: Ten Favorite Books of 2008", The New Yorker, 15 December 2008.
  5. ^ Harper Perennial paperback edition, 2009; PS About the Author, p. 6
  6. ^ Anthony, Andrew (7 September 2008). "Perfect delivery". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  7. ^ Bosman, Julie (9 September 2008). "Booker Prize Shortlist Is Announced". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  8. ^ Flood, Alison (26 February 2009). "Netherland wins PEN/Faulkner award". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 24 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Spain, John (28 May 2009). "Top prize for Irish novel loved by Obama". Irish Independent (Dublin). Retrieved 24 September 2011. 

External links[edit]