Netherland - Joseph O'Neill

Hans van den Broek is disoriented for many reasons. Born and raised in Holland, he married an English woman and lives in New York City.  After the World Trade Center attack, the family fled their downtown apartment and moved, they thought temporarily, to the very bizarre Chelsea Hotel. Rachel felt increasingly insecure in New York and decamped to London with the couple’s young son, Jake. For two years Hans has been frozen geographically and emotionally in his New York job analyzing oil projects for a large financial firm. He partially fills the void of his separation by friendship with a larger-than-life Trinidadian of Indian descent whom he met through cricket, a game he is passionately fond of.  Joseph O’Neill’s existential novel Netherland (Pantheon, $23.95) expresses the strangeness felt by New Yorkers after 9/11 and, indeed, the sense of dislocation we all feel in the new world that has come into being.

Hans van den Broek, the alienated protagonist of Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland (Vintage, $14.95), remains in New York when his lawyer wife, anxious after 9/11, returns to Britain with their son. Meanwhile, Hans’s mother, the only parent he remembers, has died in the Netherlands. To dispel his depression, Hans seeks out a weekly cricket game with a bunch of ex-colonials and falls in with Chuck Ramkissoon, a mysterious Trinidadian. Chuck’s schemes and energy become a counterweight to Hans’s passivity. The pacing of the novel, the simplicity of the plot, and the focus on a few characters, make Hans’s sadness and Chuck’s grandiosity stand out. This prize-winning novel is deceptively simple, and immensely thought provoking.

Netherland (Vintage Contemporaries) By Joseph O'Neill Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307388773
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Vintage - May 7th, 2009

Sea of Poppies - Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh’s richly imagined novel, Sea Of Poppies (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26), is based on the historical record. After slavery was abolished in Britain, ship-owners found other ways  to obtain workers for large plantations in the West Indies and Africa. They tricked, kidnapped, or, in connivance with local authorities, offered unfortunate people a choice between prison and transport. Ghosh has painted a large and attractive cast of Indians and others who end up on board an old slave ship, the Ibis, bound for Mauritius. Among them are: Deeti, a young woman with second sight;  Zachary Reid, one of the crew, son of a Maryland freedwoman;  Paulette Lambert, the daughter of the curator of the Botanical Garden; and her best friend from her youth, Jodu, whose mother was her wet nurse. There are some really bad guys too, many of whom, I am happy to say, get their just reward. Luckily, Sea of Poppies is the first part of a trilogy—after almost 500 captivating pages, the story is merely getting started. 

Sea of Poppies: A Novel (The Ibis Trilogy #1) By Amitav Ghosh Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312428594
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Picador - September 29th, 2009

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski

The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle (Ecco, $25.95) is partially a love story between young Edgar and the dogs his family raises, and partially an adventure story as he struggles to tell the truth without speaking a word. This well-paced epic rollicks across the Northern Wisconsin countryside, replete with stunning visual details and intriguing characters.  David Wroblewski tells a nuanced, dense story with lyrical ease. As the central mystery unfolds, you’ll find yourself staying up much too late in order not to leave Edgar’s side. With one of the finest debut novels ever, Wroblewski gives us characters and scenes that we will come back to again and again.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel By David Wroblewski Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061374234
Availability: Backordered
Published: Ecco - September 8th, 2009