Netherland by Joseph O'Neill


Joseph O'Neill

A sense of loss, the human desire to belong and the fragmentation of the American dream. In a world turned upside-down where all allegiances are crumbling, Dutch ex-pat Hans finds himself abandoned in New York and the only way he can make sense of his circumstances is by going back to his childhood love of cricket. Then he meets the enigmatic Chuck who creates mystery, excitement and danger. Reading this book is like eating a delicious mocha mud pie and discovering endless layers under the coffee and chocolate.

I’ve heard that social scientists like to explain such a scene-a patch of America sprinkled with the foreign-born strangely at play - in terms of the immigrant’s quest for sub communities. How true this is: we’re all far away from Tipperary, and clubbing together mitigates this unfair fact. But surely everyone can also testify to another, less reckonable kind of homesickness, one having to do with unsettlements that cannot be located in spaces of geography or history; and accordingly it’s my belief that the communal, contractual phenomenon of New York cricket is underwritten, there where the print is finest, by the same agglomeration of unspeakable individual longings that underwrites cricket played anywhere - longings concerned with horizons and potentials sighted or hallucinated and in any event lost long ago, tantalisms that touch on the undoing of losses too private and reprehensible to be acknowledged to oneself, let alone to others. I cannot be the first to wonder if what we see, when we see men in white take to a cricket field, is men imagining an environment of justice.
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