Wednesday, May 29, 2013
The Dinner; Herman Koch
Title: The Dinner
Author: Herman Koch
Publication Year: 2013
Publisher: Random House (Hogarth) and Audio Go
Reader: Clive Mantle (very good)
Date Completed: May - 2013
I tried to stay away from spoilers when reading the many reviews posted on this novel. I knew it had some shocking aspects, but what they were or just how shocking, I had no clue. WOW, this is one disturbing, but the way the story rolls out with "the dinner" as it's backdrop is makes for one terrific experience.
The story starts off innocent enough with (2) couples: brothers, Serge and Paul Lohman, and their wives Babette and Claire, meeting for dinner at a high end restaurant in Amsterdam, one lovely summer evening. The story evolves over the various courses of their meal. Serge is a politician, running for Prime Minister, and Paul is a retired teacher. It is clear early on that there is no love between brothers, but they have come together to discuss a disturbing incident involving their teenage sons. An incident so horrific that it is about to make the news. Bit by bit the reader finds much to dislike about these snobby, loathsome individuals who differentiate themselves from the "regular people".
None of the characters in this novel are likable, so it's not surprising that their sons have issues given the moral fiber of the parents. The writing and the way the story unfolds in small doses, not only draws the reader in, but allows them time to form opinions about these adults as well. The story is told in a series of flashbacks, including some disturbing ones. To me just as disturbing as the incident, is the way some of the parents react to the situation.
It's a story that left me wondering does bad parenting or bad genes attribute to psychopathic behavior? In this case, I think "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."
I finished this well over a week ago, but wanted to process it before writing my review. Initially I was going to give it a 4.5/5, but the longer I think about this one, I know it's a story that will stick and the dark humor added to my enjoyment of this one. In it's own twisted way, The Dinner, is a story I really enjoyed, Worthy of a 5 star rating in my book -- Read it or listen to it -- the narrator is very good!