NOVELIST, AUTHOR OF “NETHERLAND” (2008), PRESIDENT OBAMA’S FIRST BOOK FOR PLEASURE READING SINCE BECOMING PRESIDENT
NYS Writers Institute, September 29, 2009
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Assembly Hall, Campus Center
8:00 p.m. Reading | Assembly Hall, Campus Center
Joseph O’Neill, author of the novel, “Netherland” (2008), winner of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award and President Obama’s first choice for pleasure reading since assuming the presidency, will read from his work on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. the author will present an informal seminar in the same location. The events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and are free and open to the public.
Joseph O’Neill, Irish-Turkish novelist, is the winner of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for “Netherland,” the story of a multiracial group of immigrant cricket players living in New York City. “New Yorker” critic James Wood called the book “Exquisitely written,” and “one of the most remarkable postcolonial books I have ever read.”
The book features a Dutch-born narrator, Hans van den Broek, a New York-based equities analyst whose wife abandons him shortly after the collapse of the World Trade Center, taking their son Jake with her back to London. Van den Broek seeks solace and friendship by joining a cricket league made up of West Indian and Asian New Yorkers. He strikes up an unlikely friendship with Chuck Ramkissoon, a charismatic hustler from Trinidad who works for the Russian mob. Ramkissoon’s ambition— his personal version of the American dream— is to build a cricket stadium in Brooklyn.
Novelist Jonathan Safran Foer said in advance praise, “‘Netherland’ is suspenseful, artful, psychologically pitch-perfect, and a wonderful read. But more than any of that, it's revelatory. Joseph O'Neill has managed to paint the most famous city in the world, and the most familiar concept in the world (love) in an entirely new way.” Writing in the “New York Times Book Review,” Dwight Garner said, “‘Netherland’ has more life inside it than ten very good novels,” and 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.” The “Times” also named it one of the “Ten Best Books of 2008.”
In “Netherland,” the Dutch protagonist’s voyage of discovery in post-9/11 New York evokes— symbolically— an earlier age of European exploration in North America.
Last May, President Obama revealed that he had taken up “Netherland” as bedtime reading. In a “Newsweek” interview he called it, “Fascinating…. A wonderful book,” and in a BBC World Service interview he called it “An excellent novel.” His endorsement gave “Netherland” a substantial boost in sales and pushed it on to a number of national and international bestseller lists.
The son of an Irish father and a Turkish mother, O’Neill was born in Cork, Ireland and grew up in the Netherlands. His previous books include the novels “This Is the Life” (1991) and “The Breezes” (1996), and the memoir, “Blood Dark Track” (2001), a “New York Times” Notable Book for 2002, and a Book of the Year for the “Economist” and the “Irish Times.” “Blood Dark Track” explores the lives of O’Neill’s grandfathers, one Irish and an IRA soldier, the other Turkish and a suspected Axis spy, both imprisoned by the British for political crimes during World War II. The “Times Literary
Supplement” said, “The progress of his investigations are imbued with all the darkening excitement of a novel by le Carre or Greene.”
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.