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The Dinner by Herman Koch
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The Dinner (edition 2013)

by Herman Koch

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,7002322,193 (3.43)217
Member:BronFoxall
Title:The Dinner
Authors:Herman Koch
Info:Hogarth (2013), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:Dutch, Translation, Families

Work details

The Dinner by Herman Koch

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» See also 217 mentions

English (184)  Dutch (34)  Spanish (5)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (231)
Showing 1-5 of 184 (next | show all)
Giving this 3 stars. It was a tough call. The plot mesmerizing and disturbing the book is very well written. But in the end, it was disappointing. There only reason the characters seem to behave in the way they do is some unknown genetic disease.

I'd recommend it with the warning that if you are a parent, it will tug on your worst fears. ( )
  dham340 | May 10, 2015 |
Would have been better as a interesting but mediocre play. ( )
  Clifford.Terry | Apr 30, 2015 |
First let me clarify. If half ratings were possible, I would give this 3.5 stars. Now let the reviewing commence:

The Dinner seems to revolve around an Anna Karenina quote, "All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." As two couples, specifically two brothers and their respective spouses, sit down to a meal at an overly pretentious dining establishment, the specific brand of their unhappiness is exposed as each course unfolds. Between platitudes, critiques of Woody Allen films, and overly extended explanations of their culinary items, a dark secret about their respective sons hovers over the table and eventually comes to a boil by the time dessert is served.

This however is not your typical variation on the theme of keeping family together at all costs, wherein the reader can usually empathize with the characters, or at the very least, rationalize their actions. What we find in The Dinner is four utterly despicable characters, with the most heinous representation found in the unreliable narrator Paul. However, their grotesque nature makes for all the more interesting of a read in my opinion. Underneath their facade of fastidious decorum and ostentatious "civilization," rage and emotions bordering on sociopathy simmer. According the NYT review of the novel, The Dinner is supposedly attuned to a "distinctly European society," one that is superficially concerned with civility and ashamed of its underlying savagery. I however think that this novel has more global implications. Set during the Bush era, amidst two wars, I believe Koch is meditating on the wider theme of violence as a means to proverbially "keep the peace," or violence as a legitimized and rational response to any form of conflict. But, this is just my opinion.

I really enjoyed the structure of the novel, which I contend is one its stronger facets. The setting is an extremely important aspect in this book, because as each course arrives for our diners, our own appetite, hunger and curiosity increase for the unfolding story. It is through this staccato structure that Koch manages to achieve a compelling, attention grabbing and intentionally frustrating read for his audience. ( )
1 vote Casey_Marie | Apr 27, 2015 |
Two brothers, their wives and their two absent - yet very present - 15 year olds sit down to dinner at a very fancy restaurant to talk about what to do about a very disturbing secret.

Translated from Dutch, this book is fast paced and intriguing - a good read. ( )
  EvelynBernard | Apr 27, 2015 |
I pretty much hated all the characters by the middle of the book, and by the end u just wanted everyone to die. Not a redeeming soul to be found. I did, however, like the structure of the book. These are terrible parents. Okay, got that off my chest. ( )
  CeliciaS | Mar 15, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 184 (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)
 
Welsh is intrigued by a novel reminiscent of The Slap and Carnage
added by Nickelini | editthe Guardian, Louise Welsh (Aug 17, 2012)
 
De hel, dat is bijvoorbeeld een eeuwigdurend verblijf in Renaat Braems afzichtelijke politietoren in Antwerpen. Maar een duur diner voor twee stellen, zoals in Herman Kochs meesterlijke nieuwe roman, blijkt ook een mogelijkheid.
Maar het écht buitengewoon knappe van deze roman is dat deze nuchter-geestige Paul zich in de loop van het verhaal ontpopt als iemand voor wie je allengs minder en minder sympathie gaat voelen (- om maar één ding te noemen: heeft hij eigenlijk niet last van nare geweldsfantasieën?).
added by sneuper | editKnack, Herman Jacobs (Feb 25, 2009)
 

» 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 your language.
NICE GUY EDDIE
C'mon, throw in a buck.
MR. PINK
Uh-huh, I don't tip.
NICE GUY EDDIE
Whaddaya mean, you don't tip?
MR PINK
I don't believe in it.

Quentin Tarantino
Reservoir Dogs
Dedication
First words
We were going out to dinner.
Quotations
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)

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