Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Joseph O’Neill

Fourth Estate, 2008

The protagonist of this novel, a Dutchman by birth who lives in England and the USA, Hans van den Broeck begins his memoirs from 2002, when Hans first became acquainted with Chuck Ramkissoon. They met at Walker Park in New York, where they played the cricket. During one such match some crazy runs onto the field with a gun in his hand. With all the players run off the field, except Hans and captain of the opposing team's Chuck, who persuades crazy to throw his gun and leave the field. After the game, in a bar, Hans and Chuck meet properly. Hans is white and from Holland, Chuck is black and from Trinidad.
The life of Hans is bursting at the seams. A year before the meeting by Hans and Chuck Hans’ wife Rachel leaves for London with their son Jake. After 9\11, Rachel does not feel safe in the States. She does not want to live in a country participating in war. Collapse of trade centers influenced on Hans, too, he feels an inexplicable fatigue. The job of analyst at the bank does not give him any trouble, he does it automatically. The next time, Hans and Chuck meet by chance in a few months after that cricket game. Learning that Hans is banking analyst, Chuck is interested in the services of Hans. He plans make some kind of deal, and perhaps Hans calculations will not be redundant.

«Netherland» is a book about embarrassment, about how you can not find yourself in a world of globalization, when many boundaries are erased. After the events of 9/11 Hans feels that it is something not right, he dropped out of society and does not know what to do. He tried to blend into American society, but the attack seems to have erased all his attempts, Hans became an indirect victim of 9\11. Against the background of inner feeling of being exhausted his family falls, and he can not do anything. A straw, for which he can catch (although Hans does not realize it) to get out, becomes Chuck. He is not a Native American, but settled better into this country than many people who were born and raised in the United States. Chuck had not only taken root, he wants to change the country, in its plans one can even discern the union of many nations, living in the U.S.

Ramkissoon in this novel is one of several heroes of American literature, which can be called great dreamers. His plan seems crazy, but it doesn't matter: a dreamer Chuck unwittingly helped Hans to find himself, to find his ego. Chuck is just a gangster linked to the Russian mafia, unwittingly embroiling Hans in his dark deeds, but because of his ideals and grand plans, the dark side of Chuck's almost not visible. Chuck does not become an ideal for Hans, he offers no solutions to Hans of how to save his life, but Chuck cleans Hans from accumulated emptiness.

This novel is also a book about urban life, with fine detail, magnificent scenery, with the turmoil, but the charm of this will be understood only by residents of big cities. For the rest it will not be so obvious. And in general, not living in the United States or Britain, it is difficult to capture additional meanings of this remarkable book.

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