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The Dinner by Herman Koch
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The Dinner (edition 2013)

by Herman Koch

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3,3792811,609 (3.42)284
Member:RobinBrz
Title:The Dinner
Authors:Herman Koch
Info:Hogarth (2013), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library, Book Club '13-'14, Recently Read
Rating:***
Tags:None

Work details

The Dinner by Herman Koch

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» See also 284 mentions

English (231)  Dutch (35)  Spanish (5)  Italian (3)  French (2)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  All (281)
Showing 1-5 of 231 (next | show all)
The Dinner by Herman Koch has recently been made into a movie. The information on the dust jacket intrigued me, so I decided to move it up a few notches. This is the seventh novel, along with three collections of short stories. of this internationally known writer from Amsterdam. The story is thrilling, and his prose will push the reader to the end. I could hardly put it down.

Paul and Serge Lohman are brothers, both are married and both have a fifteen-year-old son. Serge also has an autistic daughter and an adopted child. Serge is also a politician, and he is headed to the office of speaker of Parliament in The Netherlands. Paul has major anger issues, and he frequently fantasizes about beating someone to death. The dust jack mentions the brothers are entangled in a horrific event brought on by the two boys, or is it?

Paul is misanthropic to say the list. The couples meet for dinner at a ritzy restaurant. Paul harbors lots of resentment over his brother’s success. Koch writes, “What I was in fact planning to do was look at the prices of the entrées: the prices in restaurants like this always fascinate me. Let me make it clear right away that I’m not stingy by nature; that has nothing to do with it. I’m also not going to claim money is no object, but I’m light years removed from people who say it’s a ‘waste of money’ to eat in a restaurant while ‘at home you can make things that are so much nicer.’ No, people like that don’t understand anything, not about food and not about restaurants” (25). The novel drips with sarcasm, snarky remarks, and hidden grudges.

All four of the adults know about the horrific event, but none of the four knows what the others know. Clair, Paul’s, wife, knows more than the others. Michel, Paul’s son, writes a disturbing essay, and the principal calls Paul in for a conference. The principal mentions an incident at the school Paul recently left. He becomes so angry he attacks the principal and severely beats him. Oddly enough, there is no further mention of this attack. In another scene, Paul recalls his son kicking a ball through a glass window. He takes the boy to apologize and pay for the window, but the bike shop owner is not satisfied. Paul loses his temper, and picks up a bicycle pump to hit the man. Later, Michel asks if he was really going to hit the man. Koch writes, “I had already put the key in the lock, but now I squatted down in front of him again. ‘Listen,’ I said. ‘That man is not a good man. That man is just a piece of trash who hates kids who are playing. It doesn’t matter whether I would have hit him over the head with that pump. Besides, if I had, he would only have had himself to blame. No, what matters is that he thought I was going to hit him, and that was enough’” (139). The significance of this memory will will become apparent at the end of the story.

The purpose of the dinner was for the adults to discuss the “incident” concerning their sons. Serge offers to withdraw from the election, despite the fact he is way ahead in the polls and almost certain to win. Serge’s wife, Babbette, does not want her husband to withdraw. He has planned a press conference for the next day. Clair and Babbette plot to stop the announcement. The ending is surreal, almost dreamlike. One body leaves the scene on a stretcher.

The Dinner by Herman Koch is a thrilling and suspenseful novel. A perfect read for a sunny day, or a rainy day, or any day. 5 stars.

--Chiron, 5/12/17 ( )
  rmckeown | May 27, 2017 |
I liked the sound of the movie in a review I read so I took a chance on the book. Yes, it's set around a dinner - a fancy, nouvelle cuisine affair, and with the main protagonist's (Paul) high profile politician brother and his glamorous wife. Paul and his wife Claire would much rather eat a less pretentious place but what his bro commands ...

The book is divided into the 4 courses and I loved his sardonic wit and comments about the food and the maitre d'. It was so good I though surely it was written in English but no, it's translated Dutch. Superbly. Fairly soon into the book, there are undertones outside of the actual dinner which become reflective on Paul and some of his issues, his son (I won't elaborate), and an increasingly darker topic.

Without giving away too much it evolves into a very dark situation and a nasty resolution of it. I've read reviews that comment on how evil Paul is and praise his wife Claire. IMHO Paul is nasty but flawed and his wife manipulative and very much the evil one. Really, all the characters are severely flawed except for his brother's wife who is just a victim and otherwise pathetic.

A superb read and an easy and quick one too. ( )
  martinhughharvey | May 18, 2017 |
Really did not like this book. I had to make myself finish it. I never connected or felt for the characters in the story. There was nothing to root for. ( )
  CorTim2 | Apr 4, 2017 |
Intriguing, this book was a page turner! Could not put it down. ( )
  TBoerner | Mar 22, 2017 |
Author Koch has received much acclaim in literary circles, and I can understand why. He writes really well. But if you want to be able to like a single character, or even have sympathy for a character, look elsewhere. The only other book I've read by Koch so far is Summer House with Swimming Pool, and it was also filled with rather nasty people.

The Dinner is about one dinner between two brothers, one of them running for Prime Minister, and the wives of each. But of course, there is more to it than that. The brothers are getting together to talk about their children.

This book is full of cruelty, dishonesty, violence, bullying taken to an extreme, pomposity, posturing. The adults cannot be liked; the teenage children cannot be liked. I can care about characters I don't like, but in this case, there were no redeeming features.

Nevertheless, I read to the end. I did want to see how this train wreck of a story ended. And the author did keep me hooked. I'm glad I'm done with the book, and am ambivalent about whether I'm glad I read it. ( )
  TooBusyReading | Mar 14, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 231 (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 editionscalculated
Garrett, SamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garrett, SamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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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Penguin Australia

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