According to Qiana - the young-looking chap who writes the blog - knowing Obama's reading a book is enough to make him pick it up. He hasn't posted subsequently, so I wonder if he did. Meanwhile, Netherland is on my nightstand but oh how it asks to be brought downstairs and read and read and read until it's finished. There's something about the tone, the language, the voice of a book like this ...
Netherland is a post-9/11 novel set in New York. It feels as if the smoke and dust from that terrible day are still in the air and have been breathed in by the protagonist - a Dutch banker called Hans whose wife has left him for a safer life in England- making his life the kind of 'white on white' John Vanderslice sings about in his 9/11 album Emerald City. The novel is spare of language and the tone is a meditative one that is taut with the desperate stuff of longing and blame and alienation. But there is belonging too - in the game of cricket and the NY immigrants who play it on the margins of the recovering city. I am nowhere near the end, but this book is marvellous. One of the best I've read this year.
Lit blogger Mark Sarvas, like James Wood before him, gives it his highest recommendation [the review is in his 'recommended' column on the right]. He says of Netherland that it is 'a Gatsby-like meditation on exclusion and otherness,' and the conclusion is: 'a radiant beacon illuminating one of our essential questions, the question of belonging.'
Wonder what Obama thought of it.