Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Dinner; Herman Koch

Title: The Dinner
Author: Herman Koch
Publication Year:  2013
Publisher: Random House (Hogarth) and Audio Go
Edition: audio

Reader: Clive Mantle (very good)
Source: library
Setting: Amsterdam
Date Completed: May - 2013
Rating: 5/5

Recommend: yes

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!


  1. I've been hearing a lot about this book including some very mixed reviews...I suspect that is because, as you said, the characters aren't very likeable. I do want to give this one a try - sounds like a potential Father's Day gift for my husband!


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  2. I so agree with your review. It was a compelling story with characters that I didn't like.

  3. I have a copy of this somewhere. :) Great review.

  4. I like this and will get to it soon hopefully.

  5. Oh wow - I'm definitely intrigued.

  6. Great review, to add my name to the library queue!

  7. Thanks for your great review. I am also intrigued by your review.

  8. I got this one so long ago and haven't read it yet. It's totally my type of book too. I was trying to read my ARCs in order of publication date but I am so far behind that I just picked up with May titles. I will have to get to this one though at some point.

  9. Bad genes--->Bad parenting--->Bad kids. They're all connected!

    Fantastic review, Diane!

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  11. I tried to avoid spoilers, too, and let the story unfold as I listened. I highly recommend the audiobook edition!

  12. I wasn't sure about this one after reading a description of it, but after reading your review, I think I will give this one a try. It does sound good!

  13. I loved this book - would be very interesting to listen to its unreliable narrator as an audio book!

  14. I've been just skimming or staying away from reviews too because I want to listen to the audio this summer. 5 stars huh? Ok, I need to move it up on the list, we usually like the same kind of books.

  15. Audio will be the way to go on this one!!

  16. I skimmed after your first paragraph because I want to be shocked like everyone else who has read it!

  17. I was just looking for a new book to start, and your 5 star rating sold me on this one!


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