Is the character of Hans a reliable or unreliable narrator?

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Hans van den Broek is a Danish expatriate living in New York City in Joseph O'Neill's 2008 novel, Netherland. The book is narrated by Broek and so is a first person narrative. The question as to whether he is an unreliable narrator is open to interpretation.

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Hans van den Broek is a Danish expatriate living in New York City in Joseph O'Neill's 2008 novel, Netherland. The book is narrated by Broek and so is a first person narrative. The question as to whether he is an unreliable narrator is open to interpretation.

First of all, the term "unreliable narrator" was coined by the literary scholar Wayne C. Booth in his 1961 book The Rhetoric of Fiction. M. H. Abrams, in his Glossary of Literary Terms, defines this type of narrator, which he also calls fallible, as "one whose perception, interpretation, and evaluation of the matters he or she narrates do not coincide with the implicit opinions and norms manifested by the author, which the author expects the alert reader to share" (168). He uses some of the works of Henry James as an example, but a more famous one is Humbert Humbert, the narrator of Nabokov's Lolita.

With that said, I'm not sure there is enough evidence to make Broek an unreliable narrator. His narration is not always clear and easy to follow, and as he is the one telling the story, we only get his side, yet there is no reason to find him untrustworthy. His character can be seen as disingenuous at times, such as when he underplays his friendship with the book's other main character, Chuck Ramkissoon, whom he dismisses as "A cricket guy I used to know." We also only get his side of his relationship with his wife, Rachel, but again, there's little reason to suspect that he is deliberately misleading the reader or doesn't recall things correctly.

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