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Het Diner by Herman Koch

Het Diner (edition 2009)

by Herman Koch

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,1782631,760 (3.42)257
Title:Het Diner
Authors:Herman Koch
Info:Anthos (2009), Hardcover
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Dinner by Herman Koch

  1. 30
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» See also 257 mentions

English (214)  Dutch (35)  Spanish (5)  Italian (3)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (263)
Showing 1-5 of 214 (next | show all)
I know, I know, everybody else read this when the English translation came out in 2012. Herman Koch’s The Dinner was an international bestseller and it won a prize in the Netherlands too.

The ‘dinner’ is a vehicle for two brothers and their wives to meet up at a restaurant, and the book parts are named ‘Appetiser’, ‘’Main Course’, ‘Dessert’ and ‘Digestive’, with short chapters breaking up the text in each part. It doesn’t take long for an alert reader to decide not to trust the narrator Paul Lohman, because, apart from his supercilious commentary about pretentious restaurants, his brother Serge, his brother’s wife Babette, their children and almost everyone he comes into contact with, he betrays a monstrous ego almost right from the start. An ego not concealed by what looks like an inferiority complex about his more successful brother, who’s a likely candidate for high political office. Paul also has an unnerving habit of presuming that his wife Claire understands and agrees with everything he says and does.

Eventually, it transpires that the meeting has arisen because these couples need to discuss what to do about their teenage sons’ behaviour. An aspiring politician can’t, in the modern world, have any dark secrets, and Rick and Michel have been up to no good. (Well, more than that, but #NoSpoilers, I can’t say what). Consistent with the psychological thriller genre, The Dinner doesn’t really explore the issue it raises (parents protecting their children from the consequences of their actions), it merely raises it, and makes an entertaining novel out of it. An appetiser, if you like…

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2016/08/17/the-dinner-by-herman-koch-translated-by-sam-garrett/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Aug 25, 2016 |
Whoa. That is my initial reaction to this book. Cannot say too much with out giving the story away but...whoa. ARC from publisher. ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
There was an interesting thought behind this book, but it didn't really do it for me. The writing was OK - quite spare, straight prose - but the characters were all hugely unlikeable (albeit purposely so, but still...). There are many books with hugely flawed characters that I love (like Rabbit Angstrom, or many of Franzen's characters) because there is still some endearing frailty about them, but I just found nothing likeable in the characters in this novel, so it was hard to fall for the book itself.

I also quickly grew tired of the setting of the dinner itself in the restaurant. It became very repetitive, and I was willing them to finish the bloody dinner and move on to some new scenery.

All in all, although quite an interesting concept, I wasn't as gripped as I expected to be, and much of that was because I didn't really care what happened to any of the characters in the family.

3 stars - the meat was juicy, but the vegetables accompanying it weren't too my taste. ( )
  AlisonY | Aug 13, 2016 |
"And then they came with the main course", 30 July 2016

This review is from: The Dinner (Paperback)
Narrated by father-of-one, Paul Lohman, this whole novel covers an evening out in a posh restaurant. Paul, his top politician brother, Serge, and their two wives are meeting up for a meal. At first we feel nothing but empathy for Paul as he describes the phony, stuck-up brother he so dislikes - and yet as the meal progresses, course by course, we start to see that Paul is far from a nice, normal guy...
The purpose of the meal is to discuss an horrific attack perpetrated on a down-and-out by their two teenage sons...
We see the parents trying to excuse the boys' appalling actions - Paul's wife refusing to call it murder and blaming the homeless woman as "a grown-up woman who, in complete possession of her senses, goes to sleep in an ATM cubicle." She reasons "it's an incident... that can have a major impact on our children's lives, on their future."
I really enjoyed the first two thirds or so but I found the way it all wraps up to be unbelievable and disappointing in the extreme. But worth reading. ( )
  starbox | Jul 30, 2016 |
I received this book to read and review through a postal book club on Goodreads.

This book left me a bit confused as to the author's intentions. During the first 50 pages I was frustrated and irritated with the shallowness and vapid attitudes of the characters. Then during the course of the next 100 pages, they became even more unlikable. But it was at this point I started to wonder ~ is that the author's intention? Are my thoughts and feelings about these characters following along the exact path that the author wanted the readers to take?

At the beginning you realize you have two couples who are obviously well off, but whose depth of moral character obviously ends at the shallow end of the pool. Then you start to realize that there is something not quite right with the protagonist and eventually seeing that his issues and those of his family are much larger than you could have ever imagined. But exactly what those issues are...the author never really allows you to know. We see the effects of it, but it is left in the shadows ~ some kind of condition/diagnosis/abnormality ~ but we never know what that is exactly. I found this frustrating as it is obviously central to the character's past, present, and future but as a reader we were left with only half answers about what exactly was going on with this character's psyche.

So back to my original question ~ was it the author's intention to create a story full of characters that were almost completely unlikable? (One or more of which who may even be sociopaths? Since he left the diagnosing entirely up to the reader...) For a while, I really thought this was it ~ the author wanted to take us down this road of dislike for these characters on purpose. But upon finishing the book, I'm not as sure anymore.

The edition I had to read contained an, "Extra Libris," section in the back, part of which was an interview with Herman Koch by Debra Ginsberg. From this interview I got the feeling that he didn't intend for these people to be as disliked as...well, as much as I disliked them. I just couldn't find much at all as far redeeming qualities in them. But at the same time ~ I can't say that the story itself was bad. I remained consistently at odds with the characters and their self-centered view of the world, but eventually the story did take over. The ending doesn't wrap up everything nice and neat so there wasn't that kind of satisfaction at the end. Essentially I was left with the question ~ does dislike of the characters (ALL of the characters) necessarily mean dislike of the book itself? In the end, I don't think it does. But it certainly doesn't help either. So while I would never tell someone to *not* read this book, it certainly has not been one of my favorites. So I give it two stars. ( )
  a_quiet_life | Jul 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 214 (next | show all)
If you want to enjoy Herman Koch’s new novel, don’t read a single thing about it. To do so seriously reduces its power. Don’t read the blurbs on its dust jacket — an impressive list of authors that includes Gillian Flynn and S.J. Watson — nor the synopsis on the inside flap. Don’t even read this review. Actually, forget that — come back! It’s spoiler-free, I promise. . . . The Dinner is the kind of book I wish could be translated into English more often.
added by Nickelini | editNational Post, JC Sutcliffe (Feb 15, 2013)
The Dinner, a suspense novel by Herman Koch, has sold over a million copies since it was published in Europe in 2009, and it's not difficult to understand the appeal. It's fast-paced and riveting. Written in cool, detached prose (deftly translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett), The Dinner is as theatrical and dramatic as a well-crafted play. It's also nasty. It starts off as social satire but shifts gears, and you find yourself in the middle of a horror story. . . . Mr. Koch delivers his revelations cleverly, by the spoonful. Issues of morality, responsibility and punishment are raised along the way, and a Pinteresque menace lurks under the surface. When savagery takes over, the reader is shocked. But some of Mr. Koch's conclusions are a bit too pat. In the end, the book sits on the digestion less like an over-indulgent "fine dining" experience than Chinese food, which, as we all know, leaves you feeling hungry a couple of hours later.
“The Dinner,” Herman Koch’s internationally popular novel, is an extended stunt. Mr. Koch confines his story to one fraught restaurant meal, where malice, cruelty, craziness and a deeply European malaise are very much on the menu.
"The Dinner” has been wishfully compared to Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” (and enthusiastically endorsed by Ms. Flynn) for its blackhearted deviltry. But her book, with its dueling narrators, had two vicious but sympathetic voices. Her sneaky spouses were delectable in their evil genius. The Lohmans are indigestible.
added by sneuper | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Feb 6, 2013)
“The Dinner,” Herman Koch’s internationally popular novel, is an extended stunt. Mr. Koch confines his story to one fraught restaurant meal, where malice, cruelty, craziness and a deeply European malaise are very much on the menu. The four diners can leave the table occasionally, headed to the restrooms or the garden or the handy room of flashback memories. But mostly they sit and seethe at one another as a miserable night unfolds.
This book has been widely described as both thriller and chiller, but it really is neither.
But it’s the morality of the story that’s really sickening.
added by sneuper | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Feb 6, 2013)
Welsh is intrigued by a novel reminiscent of The Slap and Carnage
added by Nickelini | editthe Guardian, Louise Welsh (Aug 17, 2012)

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Herman Kochprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garrett, SamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garrett, SamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
C'mon, throw in a buck.
Uh-huh, I don't tip.
Whaddaya mean, you don't tip?
I don't believe in it.

Quentin Tarantino
Reservoir Dogs
First words
We were going out to dinner.
If I had to give a definition of happiness, it would be this: happiness needs nothing but itself; it doesn't have to be validated.
A fixed appointment for the immediate future is the gates of hell; the actual evening is hell itself.
The stupid woman is the one who thinks she doesn't need any help.
It's like a pistol in a stage play; when someone waves a pistol during the first act, you can bet your bottom dollar that someone will be shot with it before the curtain falls. That's the law of drama. The law that says no pistol must appear if no one's going to fire it.
Sometimes things come out of your mouth that you regret later on. Or no, not regret. You say something so razor-sharp that the person you say it to carries it around with them for the rest of their life.
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Soap opera. Cast:
The Jukes family. (What's the
Dutch for 'OTT'?)

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Meeting at an Amsterdam restaurant for dinner, two couples move from small talk to the wrenching shared challenge of their teenage sons' act of violence that has triggered a police investigation and revealed the extent to which each family will go to protect those they love.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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