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Het Diner by Herman Koch

Het Diner (edition 2009)

by Herman Koch

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,9253201,938 (3.42)315
Title:Het Diner
Authors:Herman Koch
Info:Anthos (2009), Hardcover
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Dinner by Herman Koch

  1. 40
    The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: Both books center on a moral dilemma, both books feature unlikable characters behaving badly.
  2. 41
    We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (INTPLibrarian)
    INTPLibrarian: Disturbed child and parents dealing with it. Both with twists / unexpected parts.
  3. 30
    Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller (jayne_charles)
  4. 31
    Tirza by Arnon Grunberg (MGovers)
    MGovers: Wat ouderliefde met een mens kan doen...
  5. 21
    The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (baystateRA)
    baystateRA: A first-person narration over a single long conversation with loads of backstory skillfully woven in.
  6. 10
    The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester (sturlington)
    sturlington: Similar dark subject matter and unreliable narrator.
  7. 00
    Munich Airport by Greg Baxter (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Shares a sense of rising unease and the same style of narration, from close within the narrator's head.
  8. 00
    Bonita Avenue by Peter Buwalda (hste2011)
  9. 00
    Defending Jacob by William Landay (CarterPJ)
  10. 12
    The Circle by Dave Eggers (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Both of these are novels of ideas.
  11. 02
    The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (julienne_preacher)
    julienne_preacher: Good books, unlikeable characters.

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» See also 315 mentions

English (267)  Dutch (36)  Spanish (5)  Italian (4)  French (2)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  All languages (319)
Showing 1-5 of 267 (next | show all)
Our book club read this month was Herman Koch's The Dinner. I had seen Goodreads friends who had read it and enjoyed it. I didn't realize it was a dark 'thriller'.

The novel begins slow, and well, is actually boring, the narrative voice telling how he and his wife are getting ready to meet another couple at an upscale restaurant. They are not looking forward to it.

We learn that the other couple is the narrator's brother and sister-in-law, and the brother is going to run for Prime Minister. The brothers have a strained history and relationship. The narrator had a 'meltdown' in the classroom when he was teaching and was on medication.

There is a scene before the dinner where the narrator looks at his son's cell phone and is not pleased with what he discovers.

How would this evening, our dinner at the restaurant, have proceeded, had I indeed quit right then and there? from The Dinner by Herman Koch

There is a lot of description of the meal and the staff and how the sister-in-law is wearing dark glasses to hide that she has been crying.

And when we discover what it is that brought these parents together, you may wish you were not reading this book. It's too late--you have to keep turning pages. The crime is so horrendous! And the cover-up is even more disturbing.

The plotting is masterful.

But I wish I had not read this book! Did I mention it is DISTURBING? I worried about nightmares! I am not a lover of books that do this to me!

What would YOU do if your fifteen-year-old son had committed a crime? How far would YOU go to protect your child?

Maybe we don't take that seriously enough...How young they are. To the outside world, they're suddenly adults, because they did something that we, as adults, consider a crime. But I feel that they've responded to it more like children. from The Dinner by Herman Koch

Would you rationalize your child's behavior? Hide the crime? Smooth the way without repercussions? Or make the child own up to his error, support their turning themselves over to the authorities? Would consider bribery or threats or violence? Or set a standard of morality and law?

So be forewarned--you will encounter some nasty folk, and if you pick the book up, be prepared for a slow simmer that comes to a roiling boil! ( )
  nancyadair | Apr 19, 2019 |
A brilliant novel, this isn't one where you will like any of the characters, this is a masterclass in writing a novel about two families of unpleasant people. Paul and Serge are brothers and they are meeting in a posh restaurant with their wives, Claire and Babette, to talk about an horrific act their 15-year old sons have committed. The chapters are put within sections for entres, mains, desert and digestif as the evening rolls slowly along and details emerge. Serge is expected to be the next Prime Minister of the Netherlands. The evening is tense, everyone is on a knife edge and yet this novel spools out in unexpected ways. Paul's jealousy for his brother's success and his dislike for his brother is well written. Paul can't bear the man of the people stance his brother takes and is irritated by so much his brother does. He owns a summer house in the Dordogne, he and Babette have adopted a son from an African country and he is charming and yet bland. In the same way that We Need to Talk about Kevin is, this is a novel about evil and to what extent parents are to blame for the evil deeds of their children. ( )
1 vote Tifi | Apr 14, 2019 |
Have you ever read a book and when you've finished it wondered "what in the hell was that?" That's this book. Not one character has anything likeable about them, least of all the narrator, Paul. From the beginning Paul constantly finds reasons to put Serge down as though he is superior which he clearly is not. All of the characters are so shallow and under developed. The storyline forms as we the reader go through each course of the dinner, from aperitif to the digestif, the plot thickens with the story of the children of these 2 brothers, two totally spoiled, arrogant, unfeeling sons lacking in responsibility and remorse for the horrific crime they commit. The parents are equally pathetic in their handling of the situation except for the unlikely brother who actually wants to do the right thing. I can't believe a movie has been made of this book! Why when there are so many more worthy books out there. Don't bother to read this, can't recommend it, ( )
  LydiaGranda | Feb 15, 2019 |
The Dinner starts with two brothers and their wives at a fancy restaurant in The Netherlands. The one brother is a politician and the other a businessman out of work because of an illness. They both have teenage sons who seem to get along. The way the cousins get along and spend their time is what starts to bring the drama to the story. It is mostly set at the restaurant and flashbacks other places where the story takes an unexpectedly dark turn.

I read this for a book club. This book was not technically picked, the theme for the month was “Food”. This was the closest I had on the subject. I was not sure what to expect because I had never heard of the book before. Reading the description of the characters and story did not interest me. In fact, I think my husband picked up the book. The story was very different than anything I have read and with this one I consider it a good thing. I really did not expect the turn at the end. In truth, I figured the opposite was going to happen and most lived happily ever after. Nope, that was not the case. The kids were juvenile delinquents who needed a kick in the ass and a trip to jail, as did other characters by the end. The book kept me interested. It was like watching an accident on the side of the road.

I do not usually read books with such dark and despicable underbelly unless it is so supernatural or fantastical that I know the happenings will not come to be. This was a story about something that could happen and probably has. So my only dislike after reading this is me whining “why’d you have to make me think such dark thoughts?”

It was an interesting read but I think if I had the choice to read it again for the first time I would not. Reading a review would have been enough for me. That does not mean I hated it and it was not interesting. I just feel like I spent more time then I want on this book. ( )
  lavenderagate | Feb 14, 2019 |
see full review at https://basicbitchreads.home.blog/2019/01/27/the-dinner-by-herman-koch/

My thoughts on the book- First, I can completely see why the reviews are so mixed. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire book, dying to know what would happen next. But the events do unfold rather slowly, even if it is told with suspense. I can see how the fine detail to the meal would be annoying to some; I found that this added to the suspense. Since the book is so short however, it does not take long for the reader to get to “the point” of the book. I would say this book has a little Gone Girl character to it, mixed with a little Defending Jacob. None of the characters in this book are particularly likable, but what fascinated me was that they liked each other. It felt kind of like that best friend who adores the husband that you really despise, but you can’t exactly figure out why you don’t like him or why she does. I listened to this book on audio, and the narrator was fantastic. I really loved his voice and the way he told the story. I am not sure I would have enjoyed it as much as a physical book; not sure my mind could have done the story as much justice as the narrator did. Next, I plan to watch the movie- I will post an update with it’s review. ( )
  Basicbitchreads | Jan 27, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 267 (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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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'?)

No descriptions found.

Two brothers and their wives meet for dinner at a fashionable restaurant in Amsterdam. Behind their polite conversation, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened. Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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