Reading 'Netherland'


Since Barack Obama’s inauguration, we know of only one work of fiction that’s made it to the presidential nightstand.

After the briefing books and security reports, President Obama has made it known, he’s been reading last year’s widely-praised “Netherland” by Joseph O’Neill.

It’s a maximally multi-cultural tale of New York life after 9/11. Of a new century’s immigrants making their way. The president has called it wonderful.

This hour, On Point: “Netherland” author Joseph O’Neill — and James McBride, bestselling author of “The Color of Water” — on President Obama’s first read in the White House.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


Joseph O’Neill joins us in our studio. His novel “Netherland,” now out in paperback, was a New York Times bestseller and winner of the PEN/Faulkner award.  His other books include “This is the Life,” “The Breezes,” and “Blood-Dark Truck.”

You can read an excerpt from “Netherland” at

And joining us from New York is James McBride. A writer and musician, his memoir “The Color of Water” was a national bestseller. His new book is “Song Yet Sung.” You can hear his On Point interview from last year.

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