From The New York Times:
If some of these passages reverberate with echoes of “The Great Gatsby” and its vision of New York — “the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes,” the “fresh, green breast of the New World,” which nourished its hero’s belief “in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us” — the reader can only surmise that they are entirely deliberate, for, like Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, Joseph O’Neill’s stunning new novel, “Netherland,” provides a resonant meditation on the American Dream. In this case it’s the American Dream as both its promises and disappointments are experienced by a new generation of immigrants in a multicultural New York, teeming with magical possibilities for self-invention, as well as with multiple opportunities for becoming lost or disillusioned or duped.
Like “Gatsby,” “Netherland” is narrated by a bystander, an observer, who makes the acquaintance of a flamboyant, larger-than-life dreamer, who will come to signify to him all of America’s possibilities and perils. Mr. O’Neill’s narrator, Hans van den Broek, is a “reticent good egg” who works as an equities analyst for a large merchant bank. Hans grew up in the Netherlands; lived in London, where he married an Englishwoman named Rachel; and since the late 1990s has lived in TriBeCa with Rachel and their young son, Jake. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11 pummel their neighborhood, Hans and his family relocate to the Chelsea Hotel; a month or so later Rachel announces that she is moving back to London with their son.