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The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner

by Herman Koch

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,4902132,452 (3.43)206
Title:The Dinner
Authors:Herman Koch
Info:Text Publishing Co, Edition: English Language ed of Het Diner, Paperback
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Dinner by Herman Koch

  1. 20
    The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: Both books center on a moral dilemma, both books feature unlikable characters behaving badly.
  2. 31
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  3. 10
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  4. 10
    Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller (jayne_charles)
  5. 00
    The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester (sturlington)
    sturlington: Similar dark subject matter and unreliable narrator.
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  9. 11
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  10. 01
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    INTPLibrarian: Disturbed child and parents dealing with it. Both with twists / unexpected parts.

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» See also 206 mentions

English (167)  Dutch (33)  Spanish (5)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (213)
Showing 1-5 of 167 (next | show all)
I finally finished this one. I've seen reviews comparing this to Gone Girl, and while the nature of the characters in both stories is similar, the characters in The Dinner have only redeeming character: the sense of family. But is a family of sociopaths really enough to keep a reader interested?

Sociopaths as loveable characters in a normal, mundane setting has become popular lately. The Dexter series, both the book series and the Showtime drama, are excellent examples. Dexter wants to be normal, to some extent, and this makes him a character we want to know.

By contrast, in The Dinner we see all Paul's faults and none of his virtues from the onset. Though we don't know quite what's wrong with him, the way he reacts to certain people and situations let's us know he's not quite right in the head. That mingled with the constant beating around the bush of the real conflict (which is something that sets off Paul's rage when it happens to him in a flashback 2/3 of the way through the book), makes this book a difficult read.

I found myself disgusted with all the characters.

Paul and his son Michel obviously have psychological issues, Serge and Babette are beyond superficial, the adopted son, Beau, is portrayed as a hypocritical scumbag (while anyone who notices his true nature is referred to as a racist), and somehow we, as readers, are asked to find some way to like the characters. Even the hint of a mystery isn't really enough to make this an enjoyable read. I kept putting this book down.

It wasn't until I realized that Paul's wife, Clare, was equally as damaged that my interest was piqued. Until the moment I realized that she was plotting some way to protect Michel, I thought she was just blind and somewhat useless. That moment when she seems to be just as emotionally defunct as her husband (and he realizes that they are a happy family after all) is the first time I found myself intrigued with where this story could go. Unfortunately, it was just a little too late to redeem the story in my eyes. I became interested in the story just in time for the ending. ( )
  LadyLiz | Nov 25, 2014 |
Well I sighed through the early part of this book. The narrative voice of Paul was so unpleasant and indeed he is such an unlikeable character. The author slowly reveals why and a sinister overtone enters the story. It does raise an interesting point of discussion as to how far some parents are prepared to go to protect their family but I was more than happy to close this book. ( )
  HelenBaker | Nov 8, 2014 |
Definitely not Gone Girl. That comparison sets you up for disappointment. ( )
  elizabeth.b.bevins | Nov 4, 2014 |
It's dark and satiric so, yeah, I enjoyed this alright but it could have been so much better. Everything gets blown out of proportion and out-sized and ridiculous--one plot "twist" after another.,I liked the Danish perspective most of all. ( )
  wordlikeabell | Oct 31, 2014 |
Two brothers and their wives meet for dinner to discuss their sons. No Boy Scouts here. And no parenting awards either. This is compulsive reading, a I-can't-look-away-now story of loyalty and the ties that bind. Not for the fainthearted or squeamish. Deftly told. ( )
  SonjaYoerg | Oct 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 167 (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.
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 (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Herman Kochprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garrett, SamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
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.
Last words
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
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Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary
Soap opera. Cast:
The Jukes family. (What's the
Dutch for 'OTT'?)

No descriptions found.

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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Average: (3.43)
0.5 5
1 26
1.5 9
2 69
2.5 43
3 282
3.5 128
4 339
4.5 33
5 77


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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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