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The Dinner (Atlantic Cult Classics)

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The million-copy bestseller: A darkly disturbing tale of violence, parenthood and the façade of middle-class complacency, reissued in a stylish new livery as part of Atlantic's Cult Classics series. An evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet for dinner to discuss their teenage sons. The boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on CCTV but so far they remain unidentifi The million-copy bestseller: A darkly disturbing tale of violence, parenthood and the façade of middle-class complacency, reissued in a stylish new livery as part of Atlantic's Cult Classics series. An evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet for dinner to discuss their teenage sons. The boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on CCTV but so far they remain unidentified - except by their parents. Over the polite hum of restaurant conversation and the squeal of cutlery on plates, the couples have a question to answer: how far will they go to protect their children?


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The million-copy bestseller: A darkly disturbing tale of violence, parenthood and the façade of middle-class complacency, reissued in a stylish new livery as part of Atlantic's Cult Classics series. An evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet for dinner to discuss their teenage sons. The boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on CCTV but so far they remain unidentifi The million-copy bestseller: A darkly disturbing tale of violence, parenthood and the façade of middle-class complacency, reissued in a stylish new livery as part of Atlantic's Cult Classics series. An evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet for dinner to discuss their teenage sons. The boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on CCTV but so far they remain unidentified - except by their parents. Over the polite hum of restaurant conversation and the squeal of cutlery on plates, the couples have a question to answer: how far will they go to protect their children?

30 review for The Dinner (Atlantic Cult Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Hated this book! It felt contrived and stilted. I didn't like any of the characters. I couldn't identify with any of them. None of the dialogue was believable. The situation was farcical (why would you go to a super-expensive, elite restaurant to talk about such a private matter?). The whole book was about protecting the kids from their own actions - their was no sense of personal responsibility, no remorse, no soul searching. The narrator was a violent thug who just whined incessantly the whole Hated this book! It felt contrived and stilted. I didn't like any of the characters. I couldn't identify with any of them. None of the dialogue was believable. The situation was farcical (why would you go to a super-expensive, elite restaurant to talk about such a private matter?). The whole book was about protecting the kids from their own actions - their was no sense of personal responsibility, no remorse, no soul searching. The narrator was a violent thug who just whined incessantly the whole way through the book. He was as big a bore as his brother. I can't begin to describe how irritated and ripped off I felt by this book. To compare it to The Slap (by Australian author Christos Tsiolkas) is such a joke. The characters in that book were so well written and, while not always likeable (in fact some were really icky), they were believable. And it explored the underlying issues and fallout from the "event" that the book gets its name from. I felt like the The Dinner was a cheap stunt designed to make the reader feel like they had explored something deep, dark and dangerous. It is white-bread, middle class, lite-lit of the worst kind.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Delee

    I really detested every character in this book (with the exception of Serge, him I just disliked). I hated the ending with every fiber of my being. I found myself wanting to put it down numerous times, and I felt physically ill when I realized where the ending was going....and yet I didn't hate the book itself. I actually went back and forth about whether to give it three stars or four stars for quite awhile. If it was possible I would give it 3 1/2 stars, so lets just say I did. I am going to l I really detested every character in this book (with the exception of Serge, him I just disliked). I hated the ending with every fiber of my being. I found myself wanting to put it down numerous times, and I felt physically ill when I realized where the ending was going....and yet I didn't hate the book itself. I actually went back and forth about whether to give it three stars or four stars for quite awhile. If it was possible I would give it 3 1/2 stars, so lets just say I did. I am going to leave my review simple for many reasons- 1) You don't need me to tell you what this book is about because there are lots of other people explaining the plot on Goodreads, and they will do it much better than me (writing down my thoughts has never been my forte)... 2) I have just started to voice my opinions on here, and my thoughts on this book would make me sound like a " raving, people hating, I weep for the future" kind of gal...and finally 3) If I get into my feelings of THE DINNER I will probably give something away (since I don't know how to use the spoiler warning yet). I feel to get the most enjoyment out of reading it, you really should go in blind.

  3. 5 out of 5

    karen

    so this is probably a safe bet for people who liked Gone Girl. in other words, not you, richard. but it is not nearly as twisty and satisfying as g.g., methinks. it has the moral bankruptcy of Gone Girl, the shallow people, banal small talk and heavily-done descriptive elements of American Psycho, and the "we are here to talk about our delinquent kids but it isn't going to go well" scenario of The God of Carnage. and why yes, i have only seen the film adaptation, thank you for asking. the whole t so this is probably a safe bet for people who liked Gone Girl. in other words, not you, richard. but it is not nearly as twisty and satisfying as g.g., methinks. it has the moral bankruptcy of Gone Girl, the shallow people, banal small talk and heavily-done descriptive elements of American Psycho, and the "we are here to talk about our delinquent kids but it isn't going to go well" scenario of The God of Carnage. and why yes, i have only seen the film adaptation, thank you for asking. the whole thing takes place over a single dinner, with each section of the book corresponding to a course in the meal. the participants are two couples; a pair of resentful brothers and their wives, and the occasion is not a festive one, but a sit-down to discuss the horrific crime their sons have committed together, whether to tell the authorities, and how this will impact the one's plans in his campaign for prime minister of the netherlands. the restaurant itself is a nightmare - the kind of place you have to wait three months for a table (unless you are serge lohman, beloved prime minister-to-be), and they serve you mostly plate and insist on telling you all about the ingredients and from whence they came, and how the little baby calves were petted and loved until they were turned into sweetbreads. so the story becomes this juxtaposition of the violence of their children against the trappings of the entitled bourgeoisie. (oh, greg is going to be so proud of me) but it's an odd little book. maybe it is the translation, but it is very stilted, whose characters seem like when aliens wear human faces, and not just because of how reprehensible some of them are in their little moral cesspool. the storytelling itself is very skewed - there are amazingly minute details about the food and its cost, but it gleefully glosses over the important stuff. which is coy and intentional, but frustrating for the reader, who really wants to know what psychological disorder our increasingly unreliable narrator suffers from. as the story goes on, the tension escalates, and with every course, as the waiter's finger comes closer and closer to the food as he relentlessly describes every element on the plate, you can feel the simmer of the unspoken building to a boil. there is a lot of violence in this book. there is the crime itself, but there are also numerous flashback stories and memory sequences, where violence is alluded to and then celebrated in ever-increasing swathes of confession. while still doing the coy thing, the discreet turn away from the camera when it comes time to make with some of the details. ultimately, the book is about protecting family vs doing what is right, but "right" in this case is subjective, and two of our subjects just don't have the same compass as us; they have a nick-and-amy compass. so things are going to get rough. it's perfectly good, it just didn't make me see stars. bon appetit!! come to my blog!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    “That’s the oppressive thing about happiness, the way everything is out on the table like an open book.” When you look at the "rating details" for every widely-read book on Goodreads, you will almost always see most ratings being 5 or 4 stars. Even when it comes to divisive books like Fifty Shades of Grey, 60% of the ratings are for 4 or 5 stars. Now look at the ratings for The Dinner. There are an overwhelming number of 3 star ratings (more than any other). And I get why. This is the kind of “That’s the oppressive thing about happiness, the way everything is out on the table like an open book.” When you look at the "rating details" for every widely-read book on Goodreads, you will almost always see most ratings being 5 or 4 stars. Even when it comes to divisive books like Fifty Shades of Grey, 60% of the ratings are for 4 or 5 stars. Now look at the ratings for The Dinner. There are an overwhelming number of 3 star ratings (more than any other). And I get why. This is the kind of book that you remember as being "clever" and "twisted" but never rush out to recommend. It's a book you find it hard to say isn't "good", but at the same time you weren't blown away. And, though it may be about a dinner, it just isn't that delicious. The whole story consists of one dinner at one of those overpriced restaurants where you get a tiny morsel of food in the centre of your plate. Two couples are at this meal - the narrator (Paul), his politician brother (Serge Lohman), and their wives (Claire and Babette). Through little flashbacks and side stories, details and vagueness, it becomes clear that there's a dark side to this get together and our narrator might not be so reliable. It's a book about many things: mental illness, dehumanization, middle class people and the coveted notion of a "happy family". I particularly liked how Koch explored the ways in which subtle language changes can be used to dehumanize someone. Like calling a drunk person an "alcoholic" so that's what they become - defined by their drunken state, no longer human, deserving of everything they get. It's a book that gets darker and darker. And, despite the scope of the novel being relatively small, it remains compelling. The narrator's disdain for his pretentious brother and the general faff of "posh" restaurants is amusing. Though I think, most of all, this novel has a severe lack of believability and I found it hard to take seriously. Not because I don't believe people are this morally bankrupt - not that at all - but there's a certain farcical nature to the characters' actions. Would they really go out to eat at a restaurant when having a discussion like this? Would Claire really react the way she did at the end (before leaving the restaurant)? The Dinner is thought-provoking. It's twisted. It's good. But there are just enough problems with it that I can't rate higher than 3 stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    It occurred to me by the end that this is a fascist novel. Not in the sense that the author is fascist or anything of the sort, but rather like pointing to a certain book and recognizing that it's a feminist novel, or a queer novel, or a Southern novel, or what have you. In 'The Dinner' we have a situation in which the narrator, through a long illuminating story, reveals to the reader the picture of what a secret contempt of all things “weak” or “inferior”—formulated into an ideology and informi It occurred to me by the end that this is a fascist novel. Not in the sense that the author is fascist or anything of the sort, but rather like pointing to a certain book and recognizing that it's a feminist novel, or a queer novel, or a Southern novel, or what have you. In 'The Dinner' we have a situation in which the narrator, through a long illuminating story, reveals to the reader the picture of what a secret contempt of all things “weak” or “inferior”—formulated into an ideology and informing violent reactions—is basically, for all intents and purposes, fascist. The narrator Paul Lohman, and his wife Claire, unlikeable and repulsive that they end up being in the novel, make decisions that at first might seem unbelievable, until their history is further revealed. The fascist beliefs only become clear towards the end of the book. Interestingly, the concept of "happiness" is a running theme throughout the book. In the beginning, the narrator Paul quotes 'Anna Karenina' when he says that, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." As Paul rails against elite society and the idea of "keeping up appearances," he and his family do just that: they believe in fictions that will keep them, on the surface, "happy." Yet, as "unhappy" and chilling realities unfold, page by page he constantly evokes how happy they are, even as the actions prove Tolstoy's claim. And, like Tolstoy warns, they are "unhappy" in a very unique way. Though, the book leaves you with an icky feeling, it is somehow very enjoyable. It might have something to do with the impulse to view the world through the eyes of someone we would never want to be. It's voyeuristic, but you can't look away. In the end, we might say to ourself, "At least I'm not THAT screwed up."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Noeleen

    The Wall Street Journal has tagged The Dinner as ‘the European Gone Girl’. I beg to differ and I think that this book should more appropriately be tagged ‘the European Defending Jacob'...but hey who am I to question The Wall Street Journal! The Dinner tells the story of two families, the parents of which meet each other over dinner one evening in an exclusive restaurant in Amsterdam. At the heart of the story is a horrific crime which both sons within each family hold equal responsibility. Koch h The Wall Street Journal has tagged The Dinner as ‘the European Gone Girl’. I beg to differ and I think that this book should more appropriately be tagged ‘the European Defending Jacob'...but hey who am I to question The Wall Street Journal! The Dinner tells the story of two families, the parents of which meet each other over dinner one evening in an exclusive restaurant in Amsterdam. At the heart of the story is a horrific crime which both sons within each family hold equal responsibility. Koch has managed to achieve an attention-grabbing, gripping and intriguing read in this book. It is very well written and translated. I was truly hooked from page one right up until the end. The setting, i.e. the restaurant, works exceptionally well...a setting which we think and imagine will provide intimacy and an appropriate platform for discussion. 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. Consequently, as each course is served, we are faced with the interruption of the waiter on numerous occasions, explaining the dishes of choice to our four diners. Paul, the narrator of the story becomes increasingly impatient with these interruptions and we the reader do too, not because they are not highly complimentary and a necessary side dish to the story, they are, but they serve to prolong our suspense and anticipation and allow an extremely subtle tension to build . As a result, rather than receive the story in one great dish, we are served it in nibbles and sips, finger-food as such. For me, this was one of the best aspects of the book. This structure really worked superbly. There are no likeable characters in the book and our narrator is totally unreliable, two of my favourite features of a good read. The discussions at the dinner table incorporate a number of themes for debate both for our diners and for us, the reader, and are not only limited to the central crime. The plot in the story really brings to mind certain questions for the reader, how far would we go to protect our children, what actions and decisions would we take or what actions and decisions would we not take, in essence, how far would we go, as parents, to protect the ones we love and cherish? This is indeed dark and gritty but a wonderful and highly entertaining read. Highly recommended if you like contemporary fiction, most especially books with unreliable narrators. This book is also an ideal choice for Book Clubs, providing most entertaining and interesting discussion and opinion topics. One of my favourite reads of 2013 so far!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Bock

    This may have been one of the worst books I have ever read. I will confess that generally I want to have at least one character that I like. But it's not always necessary. If the plot or situation enthralls me in such a way that I am compelled to keep reading, then I'm happy to. This book however, I kept reading because every review that I read and every recommendation I got from friends said how fabulous this book was. I read to the end hoping it would get better. I hated it. I hated the fact t This may have been one of the worst books I have ever read. I will confess that generally I want to have at least one character that I like. But it's not always necessary. If the plot or situation enthralls me in such a way that I am compelled to keep reading, then I'm happy to. This book however, I kept reading because every review that I read and every recommendation I got from friends said how fabulous this book was. I read to the end hoping it would get better. I hated it. I hated the fact that these entitled kids hurt multiple people because they thought it was fun. I hated that the parents were willing to cover it up, even when they discovered it was a pattern. I hated that the father knew he had a mental illness, that had probably been passed on to his son, but he just found it funny. I hated that the one person who wanted to come clean and do the right thing was presented as an egocentric buffoon. Maybe it isn't that I need characters that I like. Maybe it's that I want to know that there is a moral compass out there. This book was filled with psychopaths with no redeeming qualities. I absolutely cannot recommend it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Petra Eggs

    Update 3 July 2015 If you've read the book and thought nothing like that could ever really happen, read the news. It chilled me to the bone. If you haven't read it, it's not so much a spoiler because the book is different. Kind of. I have tried to be oblique but anything I say will ruin the book if you are going to read it, so (view spoiler)[Say you have a terrorist in the family. You see it on the news and then find irrefutable evidence in your own home. Would you protect the person from the pol Update 3 July 2015 If you've read the book and thought nothing like that could ever really happen, read the news. It chilled me to the bone. If you haven't read it, it's not so much a spoiler because the book is different. Kind of. I have tried to be oblique but anything I say will ruin the book if you are going to read it, so (view spoiler)[Say you have a terrorist in the family. You see it on the news and then find irrefutable evidence in your own home. Would you protect the person from the police? Would you get together with your family to discuss the situation and all of you agree that further crimes will need to be committed in order to protect their loved one? Would you encourage these crimes and even commit them yourself? Would you do all this in the certain knowledge that the person will do it again and again and again if you protect them? Shock, horror, right? But we see it must be happening. What about if it was your son and he was a killer? We all know this happens in gangs too. We all wonder if it is what happens in the families of serial killers. At first I thought the ending, a psychological excuse was a cop-out but then without it the book would have not involved the narrator (and his wife) quite so intimately. (hide spoiler)] This is a hypothetical book, one of conjectures. It leads you slowly through the action, at each stage asking you to question yourself, do you find this acceptable, would you do this yourself, what kind of moral action do you expect (or not) from private and public citizens? It asks where responsibility lies and how much nurture v nature is responsible for our ethical conduct. It is an onion book, slowly slowly peeling the skin and the layers until you get to, through tears, the seed, the seed which could grow and form a new generation. A book of horrors. It's a what-if book and one very apposite for the times. I started to read the book in print but it was very slow indeed. Later I understood why there was such a need for a big build-up but it was hard going and I gave it up for the audio book which had a wonderful narrator that brought the character of Paul, the raconteur and only voice of the story to life. People have said that the characters were not likeable, true. Well generally that does make it hard to enjoy a book, but not this one. If the characters had been likeable it wouldn't have been a 5-star read because then they would have been like us and this is never going to happen in our lives. I hope.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Edit :: added spoiler alert per GR member request. (view spoiler)[Pretentious rot and Dutch version of Gone Girl only with sociopaths and food. Unpalatable. I know. That was too easy. And smug. Sorry. (hide spoiler)]

  10. 5 out of 5

    Orsodimondo

    IL CONTO NON PAGATO È olandese il primo adattamento cinematografico: ”Het diner” di Menno Meyjes, 2013. Il romanzo ha un suo percorso, ho attraversato fasi diverse leggendolo: ho cominciato detestando abbastanza l’io narrante, saccente oltre misura, uno di quelli che sembrano misurarsi quotidianamente con dio (forse perché, come disse Woody Allen, se devi avere un modello da seguire, perché non scegliere il migliore? – più o meno era così, in un film di tanti anni fa, cito a memoria). Però, è diff IL CONTO NON PAGATO È olandese il primo adattamento cinematografico: ”Het diner” di Menno Meyjes, 2013. Il romanzo ha un suo percorso, ho attraversato fasi diverse leggendolo: ho cominciato detestando abbastanza l’io narrante, saccente oltre misura, uno di quelli che sembrano misurarsi quotidianamente con dio (forse perché, come disse Woody Allen, se devi avere un modello da seguire, perché non scegliere il migliore? – più o meno era così, in un film di tanti anni fa, cito a memoria). Però, è difficile superare il meccanismo d’identificazione, e quindi, come all’omodiegetico protagonista, mi stava particolarmente antipatico suo fratello, politico di facili sorrisi (come se ne conosce bene anche dalle nostre parti). Poi, mi sono detto, oh che bello, le due donne ne vengon fuori bene, sono le vere figure positive. Più avanti, ho pensato, ma come si permette 'sto qui di parlare in questo modo di un bambino africano adottato, com’è che è tanto razzista? ”I nostri ragazzi” di Ivano De Matteo, 2014, intelligente trasposizione e rilettura del romanzo di Koch. Con Alessandro Gassman, Luigi Lo Cascio, Barbara Bobulova, Giovanna Mezzogiorno. Andando avanti, non si salva proprio nessuno, né gli uomini, né le donne, né tanto meno i ragazzi: sono tutti mostri. Viene fuori un quadro abbastanza agghiacciante, senza nulla togliere al divertimento e alla piacevolezza della lettura. La versione americana, del 2017, “The Dinner” di Oren Moverman, con Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan Rebecca Hall. Perché, altra caratteristica di questo libro, è che si legge proprio bene, prende, spinge avanti: c’è qualche divagazione di troppo, ma non riduce il gusto. Iniziare e finire in sole 24 ore è qualcosa che faccio molto di rado. Probabilmente, più che le riflessioni, gli eventuali pensieri, resterà proprio il godimento della lettura. Il film italiano è il più riuscito dei tre.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    I'm a huge fan of books that explore how far we'll go for those we love, particularly our children. When Hogarth Publishers agreed to send me the e-galley of The Dinner I was ecstatic. It's due to be published in the states in February 2013. This is a book that begs eating metaphors so I'll try to spare you but it won't be easy. The Dinner is laid out in courses, from aperitif to digestif and is excellently plotted. You learn early on that this dinner is not the typical happy family outing. Brot I'm a huge fan of books that explore how far we'll go for those we love, particularly our children. When Hogarth Publishers agreed to send me the e-galley of The Dinner I was ecstatic. It's due to be published in the states in February 2013. This is a book that begs eating metaphors so I'll try to spare you but it won't be easy. The Dinner is laid out in courses, from aperitif to digestif and is excellently plotted. You learn early on that this dinner is not the typical happy family outing. Brothers Serge and Paul and their wives have met to discuss their children and some trouble the boys, cousins Rick and Michel have gotten themselves into. It's not immediately apparent whether this trouble is the usual stuff the poor judgment of teens produces or if it's something more serious. The tension at the table is evident from the get-go. The rivalry between Paul and Serge is palatable. Serge picked the restaurant, over priced and showy where only someone with his celebrity status could hope to get a table. He's running for and likely to become the next Prime Minister. In contrast, Paul is an out of work former teacher carrying lots of baggage. Between apertif and dessert, with the in-between courses going from civilized to acrid hostility, the no good deed is revealed. What lengths will these parents go to in order to save their child? When I last picked up my napkin, dabbed my lips and placed it on the table, I wish there were a character I liked. None were appetizing and I was left feeling a bit nauseous. Not quite content and yet, wanting no more, even though some morsel was missing. Call for the check and let me out of here. Given time to digest, I relished in the deliciousness of the plot and this serving of evil. There's enough to chew on here for a good book discussion. 3.5 stars with a look for more from this author.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I thought about one of my favorite scenes from STRAW DOGS. What would this artificial voice sound like if its owner were to be dragged into a barn by a pair of French bricklayers? So drunk they could no longer tell the difference between a woman and the ruins of a cottage with only the walls still standing? Would she still be shooting off her mouth... The sequel to GONE GIRL. Two white, rich, soulless, violent sociopaths have a child and that child is growing up to become a soulless, violent soci I thought about one of my favorite scenes from STRAW DOGS. What would this artificial voice sound like if its owner were to be dragged into a barn by a pair of French bricklayers? So drunk they could no longer tell the difference between a woman and the ruins of a cottage with only the walls still standing? Would she still be shooting off her mouth... The sequel to GONE GIRL. Two white, rich, soulless, violent sociopaths have a child and that child is growing up to become a soulless, violent sociopath as well. You get the idea that something is wrong with our narrator, Paul, early on. He loves the movies DELIVERANCE and STRAW DOGS and he often fantasizes about punching people and killing them. It's only later that you realize that he has put multiple people in the hospital. And it's not until very close to the end of the novel that you realize his wife is just as bad as he is. Until then you have a hope or a sympathy that perhaps she is a good person. The son they create is exactly the kind of son you'd think would be created by the union of and then raising by two monsters. The kind of rich kid who sets a homeless woman on fire and thinks it's funny and is actually a favor to society. I can't say this book is very fun to read. "Mr. Lohman," he said. Then I punched him squarely in the nose. Right away there was blood, lots of blood: it sprayed from his nostrils and splattered across his shirt and the desktop, and then on the fingers with which he pawed at his nose. By that time I had come around the desk and hit him in the face again, lower down this time. His teeth hurt my knuckles as they broke off. He screamed. I know GONE GIRL shocked and titillated the world by putting two horrible protagonists in the book, and that was fine. But now I feel like this is not only old hat, but rather painful to read. There's no resolution. No one gets their comeuppance or punishment. Good people are murdered and maimed and the soulless go on with their existence, happy and rich and complete. THE END. Does this satisfy anyone? It might be fun in a shocking way if it's the first book of this kind you've ever read, but if you've read GONE GIRL then this is going to be more of the same for you. It's realistic. I'm laughing at how many people defend this kind of novel by saying, "Well, it's realistic." or "That's just how life is." Evil people do evil things and get away with them, feel no remorse and are never caught or punished. Great, fine. It's realistic. That's not why I read fiction, emphasis on 'fiction.' I certainly don't need everything neat and tidy, but if you expect me to be happy with this kind of novel, you are wrong. What I feel when I shut this book is despair, disappointment, and apathy. That's NOT the way I want a book to make me feel. I am very disinterested in this burgeoning subgenre called "sick fucks kill and hurt people, then live happy and long lives being sick fucks and raising other sick fucks." That's not appealing to me on any level. Tl;dr - Did you love GG and hope another book would be JUST LIKE THIS?!!?! Here's your fix. However, if you are tired and annoyed of MCs with no shred of humanity, not even the tiniest shred - stay far away from this, which seems like a tired re-hash of ideas already hashed. P.S. Also, this book purports that being a soulless sick fuck is an inherited genetic trait. And that you can sense this disease - be tested for it when you are in utero, amniotic fluid test - and if your fetus has this disease you should abort it. It's strongly hinted in the book that Koch's talking about Asperger's. What a bunch of shit. All of this is shit. What is this, The Bad Seed, where some people are born soulless, and just "Oh, well." Nurture has nothing to do with it, I mean, you're either born a sick fuck or someone with normal feelings. AND ANOTHER THING. People with Asperger's are fine. What is this author implying? If you are on the autism spectrum or not neurotypical that you are a murdering asshole who maims and kills people when things don't go your way? I wish this whole "I have a disorder, we should have aborted my now-15-year-old-son in the womb because people with this neurological disorder are soulless and will probably become serial killers" was left out. I mean, what the fuck, dude? If you just realized the dad (the main character) was fucked up, and then got to toy around with the idea in your mind like, "Nature or nurture? Is his son soulless because he inherited his dad's no-soul gene, or did growing up with a dad who literally bashed people's faces into a bloody pulp when they got in his way make his child think such behavior was acceptable?" this would be more palatable to me. But no, Koch has to make Paul (the MC dad) go to a psychologist who informs him that if they had had in-utero testing 30 or 40 years ago, Paul himself would've been aborted. Because being a soulless killer is an "illness" that can be detected in the womb and preemptively stopped. Fuck this shit. Koch comes off as an ableist jerk here, demonizing autism and Asperger's and thinking he can get away with it because he doesn't say "the A-word," as my friend calls it. This book is really angering me on many levels. Isn't it difficult enough to navigate a neurotypical world without having people write books about autistic killers who go around murdering people? I'm very angry. P.P.S. People keep saying "This book is about the lengths you'll go to protect your family" and to me that is not what this book was about, AT ALL. I guess every reader does read a different book. RELATED BOOKS: Gone Girl A Bum Deal: An Unlikely Journey from Hopeless to Humanitarian

  13. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    Wow! What a fun dinner experience that was! Everything was going so well during drinks and appetizers. Just a nice meal in a super fancy restaurant. Luckily, Serge knew people since he was a politician and all, maybe even the next prime minister! The first third of the book was just that... appetizers, whetting my appetite for the delicious main course. Pages and pages of beautiful descriptions, subtle humor, not so subtle humor, and casual conversation. The whole book could have stayed right the Wow! What a fun dinner experience that was! Everything was going so well during drinks and appetizers. Just a nice meal in a super fancy restaurant. Luckily, Serge knew people since he was a politician and all, maybe even the next prime minister! The first third of the book was just that... appetizers, whetting my appetite for the delicious main course. Pages and pages of beautiful descriptions, subtle humor, not so subtle humor, and casual conversation. The whole book could have stayed right there and I wouldn't have minded at all. But, ohhh what happened.... We gotta talk about the children. And that's when the main course got really, really dark and you got to know everyone a little too well, more details than you ever wanted to know, stories of the past that shouldn't really be unearthed. Not here, not at dinner. People will say, "Ugh, I didn't like any of the characters. They were all so awful. Boo hoo hoo." I didn't like any of these people either. I was never rooting for anyone. I don't think that's the point of the book. Yeah, it seems absurd that these parents had to make what we may see as easy decisions, right? But, man, we're not running for prime minister, and aren't we all selfish at our core anyway? Doesn't this maybe point out that we're probably always going to look out for ourselves, and isn't that worse? How different am I from these people? Ahhhh!! I loved the twists and turns of the novel, diving into Paul's past and his relationship with his brother. It didn't turn these people into anti-heroes or make me feel for them, but it made them three dimensional even if they were still pretty awful. The way this book took a sharp turn and didn't lay off the brakes from there was fantastic. I didn't think there was a moment wasted, and I loved each section of the meal. I would even argue that it ended a little too abruptly after the slow climb to get there. I would have liked a few more pages, maybe an epilogue or something. I don't know. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I knocked out most of it in a day. I would definitely recommend it for something a little darker, but please, for the love of God... Don't compare this to Gone Girl.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Update : I got the dvd of the movie of this book, and just as I was about to play it I said to myself hold on, I already watched this movie; and then I wasn't sure - had I already seen it or not? What a puzzle! but then myself answered back and said that the only way to find out was to watch it, so I did and I hadn't seen the movie at all. But the book had instilled such strong scenes and dialogues within the portals of my brain that I thought I had. I think that deserves another half star. And I Update : I got the dvd of the movie of this book, and just as I was about to play it I said to myself hold on, I already watched this movie; and then I wasn't sure - had I already seen it or not? What a puzzle! but then myself answered back and said that the only way to find out was to watch it, so I did and I hadn't seen the movie at all. But the book had instilled such strong scenes and dialogues within the portals of my brain that I thought I had. I think that deserves another half star. And I do recommend the dvd, a very bitter affair, less hideously funny than the book, and arguably better. Except for Steve Cogan pretending to be an American - I don't know why they do that. It's like Dr Johnson's dog walking on two legs. ******* Original review : They say, do they not, that The Dinner is the European Gone Girl. Mais non! I say. I threw GG at the wall after around page 100 with some force, but I finished The Dinner with a distinct smacking of the chops and dabbing of the napkin, so that’s a big difference. Both books are about extremely irritating people, it must be admitted. But the plot swerves in GG are more than a little ridiculous and there for the standard lo-cal thriller effect, whereas I thought the disturbed and frankly nasty personalities on display here were just this side of plausible and therefore gave me a frisson, which sounds like something you could eat but isn’t. It’s hard to discuss the plot. You know it’s all about one single dinner in a very posh restaurant so the whole book is one evening from around 8 to around 1 am but with copious flashbacks. The ultra-sophistication of the restaurant brought me out in a cold sweat all by itself, with the maître d’ hovering by each dish and explaining what is on the plate – “The goat’s cheese comes from the Rarata-Monteoru region of Romania. It is an organic farm established by monks in 1459. Each goat has a nominated chef to attend its dietary needs etc etc”. So all that is quite amusing. It is two brothers and their wives who are eating this dinner. Or actually pecking at it then jumping up and rushing outside to make a mysterious phone call. Gradually the ghastly family secrets are unveiled. Each brother has a 15 year old son and the two of them have been spoiler-oiler which is enough to put a person off his escargots. It turns out that the brother who is narrating is spoiler-spoil so you just don’t know what a guy like that will do. So very spoilerish things have happened and indeed will happen. And I cannot say any more than that. I rattled through this and as I did the movie was already forming in my brain. I see fluid camerawork swirling round and round the table and many revolting close-ups of the fancy grub. IMDB says it will be out next year starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney and Steve Coogan. What? Steve Coogan? Is there time to change that? Three stars. Kind of sort of slightly recommended. Haute cuisine is what they eat in this novel but The Dinner is strictly burger and fries.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Ansbro

    This is a book that polarises opinion. In some respects it could be viewed as being provocative, voyeuristic and dark; in other ways it could be seen as being unpleasant and incredibly dull. I, for instance, love the movie Lost in Translation and consider it to be a masterpiece. My wife, on the other hand, finds it ponderous and aimless. As an inveterate people watcher, I love witnessing families having bust-ups in restaurants and other public places, as long as I'm not anywhere near them. I also This is a book that polarises opinion. In some respects it could be viewed as being provocative, voyeuristic and dark; in other ways it could be seen as being unpleasant and incredibly dull. I, for instance, love the movie Lost in Translation and consider it to be a masterpiece. My wife, on the other hand, finds it ponderous and aimless. As an inveterate people watcher, I love witnessing families having bust-ups in restaurants and other public places, as long as I'm not anywhere near them. I also watch cringeworthy social gaffes on TV through my fingers, all the while groaning with embarrassment, yet continuing to gawp. So, if (like me) you love to eavesdrop while fragile relationships unravel in restaurants, then this might be your thing. If you prefer your main characters to all be agreeable and charming, then this definitely won't suit!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Will M.

    I can consider this one of the few messed up novels that amazed me by its darkness. Some of the other ones were Gone Girl and Dark Places, so I guess I do have to agree with the blurb from Wall street journal stating that this is a European Gone Girl. This is one of those circumstances wherein I'm glad I didn't listen to the bad reviews, and the low overall rating of the novel. Opinions vary, so stick with your gut. If the novel seems like something you'd enjoy, then don't hesitate to give it a I can consider this one of the few messed up novels that amazed me by its darkness. Some of the other ones were Gone Girl and Dark Places, so I guess I do have to agree with the blurb from Wall street journal stating that this is a European Gone Girl. This is one of those circumstances wherein I'm glad I didn't listen to the bad reviews, and the low overall rating of the novel. Opinions vary, so stick with your gut. If the novel seems like something you'd enjoy, then don't hesitate to give it a read. Halfway through the novel I decided to consider this as the epitome of contemporary fiction, among all the novels that I've read so far. It's weird how endless ramblings regarding random things in life kept my attention for more than 100+ pages. Palahniuk tried that style with me, but failed miserably. Koch on the other hand managed to make me like the novel even more because of the rambling. I cared about what he was trying to point out, and everything the main character said only made me like him better. This novel, like I said, was messed up. If you're not a fan of dark fiction, then I'd suggest you avoid this. It's not gut-wrenching in the same way as some gore-y horror movies, but the outcome would make you question the sanity of the characters, or even the author himself. I'm a fan of out of norm fiction, so that means I don't mind if the author tackles on topics that are profane and socially unacceptable. I'm not one to promote such activities, of course, because I'm against them, but writing about those doesn't mean that the author automatically thinks that it's supposed to be right. The plot took a while for it to develop. Halfway through I honestly still didn't know what was the main focus of the novel. The secret wasn't revealed then and I was impatiently waiting for it to be discussed further. At first I thought that the novel was going to have a terrible plot because of its seemingly nonexistent development, but thankfully I was proven wrong. The characters were the main reason why this novel was messed up. Let me add in the fact though that messed up doesn't mean it was bad. I mean messed up in a positive way. Psychologically challenged characters are the best to read about, at least for me. Paul, Claire, Serge, and Babette were all amazing, and fully developed in the end. One or two of the four truly shocked me in the end of the novel. I didn't expect them to develop the way they did but the author knew what he was doing. In the end one may ask, "What was this truly about?". In my opinion, it was about how one would do anything to keep their family safe, no matter what the consequences may be. The love of a couple for their child, and how nothing can stand against that. 4.5/5 stars. Why round it down? It's because I needed more. The novel felt like it was cut short too early. The ending was not ambiguous, and I liked what happened in the end. It does feel like a European Gone Girl, so get ready for messed up to the tenth power. Highly recommended for psychological thriller fans, because this felt like a mixture of contemporary and psycho-thriller.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    This is a gourmet treat, with a bite. I have to confess, I don't have a lot of patience with those who dismiss this book simply because of the unlikeable characters. Of course, it goes without saying that anyone's reason for not liking a book is valid. You're allowed to not like the book for this or any other reason. But if you need likeable characters, and a comeuppance for all bad characters, well, frankly, you are in the WRONG SECTION OF THE LIBRARY. Ahem. Now that I got that out of the way... This is a gourmet treat, with a bite. I have to confess, I don't have a lot of patience with those who dismiss this book simply because of the unlikeable characters. Of course, it goes without saying that anyone's reason for not liking a book is valid. You're allowed to not like the book for this or any other reason. But if you need likeable characters, and a comeuppance for all bad characters, well, frankly, you are in the WRONG SECTION OF THE LIBRARY. Ahem. Now that I got that out of the way... The book is clever, created in the framework of a dinner at a fine dining restaurant. The sections of the book follow the courses, from Aperitif all the way to Digestif. It takes place in Amsterdam, in an overpriced, hoity-toity restaurant, with two couples who are there to discuss their misbehaving sons. The narrator is funny, snarky, and is our tour guide through the evening. Koch uses delightful sleight of hand throughout the book until the final reveal of what's what, and who's who. He turns the reader into a voyeuristic snoop - I mean, don't we all thrill a little when watching a nasty scene erupt at someone else's table? No? Just me? There are a few weaknesses here, worth mentioning. I found it a little hard to believe that the couples would decide to discuss their sons in a public place, given the 'delicate' subject matter. Also, there are biological explanations given for bad behaviour that I didn't 100% buy. (Later, I came to realise that the "syndrome" described in the book is a metaphor for pathological entitlement which gets passed down from parent to child by a lifetime of examples.) But Koch's writing was strong enough to make me take a morsel, and then another, and before I knew it, I'd finished all courses a pretty happy customer. Many compare this to Gone Girl. From where I sit, this book borrows more from Crime and Punishment - shining a light on the moral elitism of those who believe they can decide that some lives are worth more than others. The entitlement of some people to do as they please, regardless of the consequences. Those who respond with a frightening smile or laugh in the face of a ghastly deed done to someone who "deserved it". And, even more chilling, enabling the next generation to be this way. It's dark and it's awful, but it didn't take my appetite away... I'm sure to read more by Herman Koch.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lala BooksandLala

    what a vile little book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    RandomAnthony

    I understand comparing a book to Gone Girl will push sales, so yay for that comparison plastered on every The Dinner reference. But seriously, motherfuckers, this novel is more like Flynn's Sharp Objects and, in my eyes, better than Gone Girl. So let's stop talking about Gone Girl, even though I liked that book, because, you know, there are other books in the goddamn universe and I'm trying to review one as we speak. The Dinner's main character is an angry, reflective guy out at a restaurant with I understand comparing a book to Gone Girl will push sales, so yay for that comparison plastered on every The Dinner reference. But seriously, motherfuckers, this novel is more like Flynn's Sharp Objects and, in my eyes, better than Gone Girl. So let's stop talking about Gone Girl, even though I liked that book, because, you know, there are other books in the goddamn universe and I'm trying to review one as we speak. The Dinner's main character is an angry, reflective guy out at a restaurant with his wife, brother, and sister-in-law. The action unfolds over the evening and through flashbacks. I suppose one of comparisons between The Dinner and the Gillian Flynn-novel-that-will-not-be-named emerges from the fact I couldn't write a review of either without fearing revealing spoilers. Koch's novel is tighter, however, in its focus on familiar relationships, whether they be father/son, mother/son, father/mother, or brother/brother. The narrators gets to articulate the terrific hatred and frustration inherent in minor interactions and (perhaps) over-sensitivity to slights and manipulation when one's mind isn't quite in the right place. And the deep darkness connects to the question of whether or not families can retain a semblance of normalcy or even grow closer when the stakeholders lie, scheme, and withhold, sometimes to each other, sometimes for each other. I very much enjoyed The Dinner. I don't re-read much but I could see myself re-reading the novel in a month or two because the elegant structure deserves a second look. This book is better than its the "European Gone Girl or "topic of countless dinner party debates" horseshit tag lines. Read The Dinner on its own terms.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Debbie "DJ"

    This is the book that should have said, "If you liked Gone Girl..." And, after reading some reviews, maybe it did, and I just never saw it. For me, this book is a top notch psychological thriller. Two couples meet at a posh restaurant for dinner, arriving to discuss some type of problem with their children. The two couples are Paul, and his wife Clair, and Serge (Paul's brother), and his wife Babette. Paul is the single narrator of this story and he recounts much of his past as each course of din This is the book that should have said, "If you liked Gone Girl..." And, after reading some reviews, maybe it did, and I just never saw it. For me, this book is a top notch psychological thriller. Two couples meet at a posh restaurant for dinner, arriving to discuss some type of problem with their children. The two couples are Paul, and his wife Clair, and Serge (Paul's brother), and his wife Babette. Paul is the single narrator of this story and he recounts much of his past as each course of dinner arrives. I don't think I'll ever get their waiters pointy little finger out of my head, as he uses it to point to each item of food as it arrives. You know, those fancy restaurants who call three slices of cheese on a plate the most extraordinary cuisine, with each described meticulously. Sorry, the story...The first 20% or so focuses on Paul's memories and how he, and each of the characters have interacted in the past. It seems to plod along a bit, however, later, the fleshing out of these characters proves vital. Here's what happened after the first 20%, BAM!! WHAT? WHAT JUST HAPPENED? The "problem" related to their children, begins to be reveled, and I was in complete shock. From this point on, I was riveted to my chair, reading at record speed, with a lot of OMG's! What the children were involved in, and the parent's ideals and backgrounds really come into play now with how the situation will be handled. What I liked so much is the extremely uncomfortable questions the author wants us to ponder, such as: Do our moral responsibilities lie with the protection of our family, or with the larger picture of societies morals? Can violence be hereditary? Do we all have a private and a public face? Are "real" families only those with similar genes? Is a happy family one that sticks together at all costs? Are certain people valued more because of their social standing or intelligence? Do we have a secret vigilante wish to kill those who cannot be rehabilitated, and where do we draw that line? I love that this book took me down the dark side. I didn't like a single character, but sure did love the book. So, if you'd like your Gone Girl a little darker, you won't be disappointed!

  21. 4 out of 5

    j e w e l s [Books Bejeweled]

    A delicious, twistalicious book you will want to devour. A definite worthy contender for my TWISTER HALL OF FAME at www.booksbejeweled.com "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." — Herman Koch (The Dinner)    This is one of my favorite books in the domestic noir genre. It is not a book for everyone. It is biting, raw and the darkest hum A delicious, twistalicious book you will want to devour. A definite worthy contender for my TWISTER HALL OF FAME at www.booksbejeweled.com "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." — Herman Koch (The Dinner)    This is one of my favorite books in the domestic noir genre. It is not a book for everyone. It is biting, raw and the darkest humor you can imagine. Almost the entire story is set at a restaurant table. There are two unhappy couples having dinner together and acting as if everything is fine. As we go from appetizers to dessert, the reader gets a sense that something is very wrong here. A simmering beneath the surface kind of tension. It continues to build until all the secrets are exposed. I could not put this book down except for minutes at a time and then I was constantly wondering "what in the world is going on here?" Each couple has a son. These sons are cousins to each other, because their dads are brothers.  The sons have done something horrible. Really bad. And the parents are here not just to eat dinner at a fancy restaurant, but to work out how this situation their sons are in should be handled. All four members at the table have a different agenda, a different perspective, a different personality flaw. The narrator, Paul, is sarcastic and funny and relatable. He could be someone you know. But when you find out the true Paul, who he is when no one is watching, you realize you probably don't know anyone like him and you certainly don't want to. To me, this book is a rare find. It is very well written, even though it is translated from Dutch to English. Amazing, the English major in me rejoices! A brilliant and literary, domestic suspense story.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Raeleen Lemay

    I enjoyed this, but a lot of the events weren't ever fully explained and that bugged me quite a bit. It's definitely twisted and leaves a bit to the imagination, but it left me wanting more unfortunately.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    The folks in this book got under my skin from the get go. The pretentiousness was mind boggling. These are people for whom it's important who arrives last for a dinner reservation, for whom appearance is all. They meet at a restaurant that reminds me of The Emperor's New Clothes. Will no one admit to the laughingly almost empty plates of unique ingredients? And it goes downhill from there. These aren't people you're going to like. Those opening chapters give you an inkling of how these folks wil The folks in this book got under my skin from the get go. The pretentiousness was mind boggling. These are people for whom it's important who arrives last for a dinner reservation, for whom appearance is all. They meet at a restaurant that reminds me of The Emperor's New Clothes. Will no one admit to the laughingly almost empty plates of unique ingredients? And it goes downhill from there. These aren't people you're going to like. Those opening chapters give you an inkling of how these folks will deal with the horrendous thing their boys have done. We see everything through the eyes of Paul, but that doesn't mean you like him. I can't see this book being made into a movie. So much of the “dialog” is Paul talking directly to the reader, giving you his opinion on events. And as the book goes on, you start questioning the man's sanity. I am reading this for book club and am anxious for the discussion. This is definitely one of those books where you don't care for the characters but there's lots of meat to discuss. It's not an easy read, definitely not a feel good. But it does grip you and force you to think how you would act in a similar situation. Hopefully not like these four parents…

  24. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Sumi

    There’s a bit too much on the menu in this wickedly fun psychological thriller from bestselling Dutch author Herman Koch. But he’s such a good writer (which comes through in the smooth translation), and his narrator is so savagely funny, insightful and demented that the entire thing goes down like an excellent meal – with a slightly nasty aftertaste because of the subject matter. Two middle-aged couples dine out at an expensive Amsterdam restaurant. As they go through each extravagant, rather absu There’s a bit too much on the menu in this wickedly fun psychological thriller from bestselling Dutch author Herman Koch. But he’s such a good writer (which comes through in the smooth translation), and his narrator is so savagely funny, insightful and demented that the entire thing goes down like an excellent meal – with a slightly nasty aftertaste because of the subject matter. Two middle-aged couples dine out at an expensive Amsterdam restaurant. As they go through each extravagant, rather absurd course (presided over by a memorable restaurant worker who points at things with his pinky!), we flash back to scenes involving their children. The quartet are dining out to discuss an incident that may affect everyone’s future. Despite the contrived setting – I doubt they would meet in such a public way to talk about such a sensitive, private matter – the book is cleverly constructed. And narrator Paul, a former history teacher who resents his boorish older brother Serge’s political success, plays with our sympathies. At first we’re on Paul’s side; he’s amusing, self-deprecating and his cutting social observations (about the restaurant, about his brother) seem as sharp as a chef's knife. But as the night goes on and he fills us in on his past – and that of his wife, Claire, and his son, Michel – things become more sinister. Then they become downright creepy. The disturbing act at the centre of the book brings up lots of ethical and moral questions, and Koch handles the teasing out of this incident brilliantly. He’s less successful near the end, where he practically rushes through to the denouement. But the jagged little pieces of this narrative fit together into one horrific portrait of family life. I’m definitely going to read Koch’s Summer House With Swimming Pool.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Wow, lots to unpack here. This is a novel that has been sitting on my shelf for several years, and I finally pulled it down in a good-faith effort to read more of the books I already own. I don't remember why I was so interested in this that I bought a copy, so I skimmed some reviews to jog my memory. I saw everything from 1 star to 5 stars from Goodreads friends, with some very heated comments about the characters and the story. It lowered my expectations, and I felt ready to tackle this book. B Wow, lots to unpack here. This is a novel that has been sitting on my shelf for several years, and I finally pulled it down in a good-faith effort to read more of the books I already own. I don't remember why I was so interested in this that I bought a copy, so I skimmed some reviews to jog my memory. I saw everything from 1 star to 5 stars from Goodreads friends, with some very heated comments about the characters and the story. It lowered my expectations, and I felt ready to tackle this book. But something funny happened on the way to this review... I didn't hate the book. Instead, I got engrossed in the novel and wanted to see how it ended. The story is that two couples are meeting at an expensive restaurant for dinner. One of the couples is our narrator and his wife, Claire; the other is Serge, a politician (and the brother of our narrator), and Serge's wife, Babette. Both couples have teenage sons, and the dinner meeting is to discuss something horrible the children did. Our narrator doesn't like his brother and often tries to antagonize him, which adds more tension to the conversation. The novel is organized by the courses of a dinner: Apertif, Appetizer, Main Course, etc. The events take place over the course of one evening, with a few flashbacks to important events. I wasn't surprised to learn that the author has a background in acting, because while reading this novel I could envision it as a dramatic play. (Or a movie, which is apparently being released soon. It was dumb luck that I read this book so close to the film's debut.) All we know is what our narrator tells us, and at times he and his memories are unreliable. Many reviewers have commented on how unlikable all of the characters are, which is true -- they are selfish, vain, and inconsiderate, and our narrator's family is especially violent and has anger management issues -- but really, our society seems fascinated by such sociopaths. They are the subject of countless movies and bestselling books, and we love to hate them (or elect them president, but that's another story). In this book, we're inside a sociopath's head. Our narrator is sharing how he views the world, and it is fascinating. Of course we don't condone his actions, but he seems rather calm and rational, up until the moment he starts beating you. While I ended up getting involved in the story, this was a difficult novel to read because of the violence and brutal descriptions. I frequently winced while reading, or had to pause to take a breath. Our narrator makes some amusing comments, but even his humor becomes snarky and bitter. As disturbing as it was, I did appreciate this novel and its theme of exploring how far parents will go to protect a child, but I'm not sure I would widely recommend this book. It's definitely not for the faint of heart, and you'll be disappointed if you expect any of the characters to grow and become better people. This is a dark family story -- it's all villains and no heroes. Amusing Passage: When the conversation turns too quickly to films, I see it as a sign of weakness. I mean: films are more something for the end of the evening, when you really don't have much else to talk about. I don't know why, but when people start talking about films, I always get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, like when you wake up in the morning and find that it's already getting dark outside. The worst are those people who describe entire films. They get right into it -- they have no qualms about taking up fifteen minutes of your time; fifteen minutes per film, that is. They don't really care whether you haven't seen the film in question or whether you saw it a long time ago. Such considerations don't bother them -- they're already right in the middle of the opening scene. To be polite, you feign interest at first, but soon you bid farewell to courtesy: You yawn openly, stare at the ceiling, and squirm around in your chair. You do everything in your power to make the narrator shut up, but nothing helps. They're too far gone to notice the signals. Above all, they're addicted to themselves and their own crap about films.

  26. 5 out of 5

    F

    Was different and interesting and kept me reading. But I probs wouldnt read again.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sawsan

    رواية مزعجة, لكن واقعية وتثير كتير من التساؤلات والموضوعات أربع أشخاص بيجتمعوا على عشاء فاخر, وما بين المقبلات والسَلطات والطبق الرئيسي يحكي الراوي عن حياتهم وأبنائهم ويكشف بالتدريج الخفايا والأسرار إلى أي حد ممكن أن يصل الأهل في حماية أولادهم مهما ارتكبوا من جرائم, ومسئولية الآباء عن الأخلاقيات والسلوكيات التي يكتسبها الأبناء والأهم ...هل العنف والعداونية في التفكير والسلوك ناتج عن خلل جيني وراثي أم قوة كامنة داخل الانسان تظهر إذا توفرت لها البيئة والظروف حتى المفاهيم الواضحة مُختلف عليها وكل يراها رواية مزعجة, لكن واقعية وتثير كتير من التساؤلات والموضوعات أربع أشخاص بيجتمعوا على عشاء فاخر, وما بين المقبلات والسَلطات والطبق الرئيسي يحكي الراوي عن حياتهم وأبنائهم ويكشف بالتدريج الخفايا والأسرار إلى أي حد ممكن أن يصل الأهل في حماية أولادهم مهما ارتكبوا من جرائم, ومسئولية الآباء عن الأخلاقيات والسلوكيات التي يكتسبها الأبناء والأهم ...هل العنف والعداونية في التفكير والسلوك ناتج عن خلل جيني وراثي أم قوة كامنة داخل الانسان تظهر إذا توفرت لها البيئة والظروف حتى المفاهيم الواضحة مُختلف عليها وكل يراها من وجهة نظره, العنصرية والتمييز, القوانين وعقوبات الجرائم اللي بتحقق العدالة, تصرفات السياسيين والأثرياء... عجبتني جدا الطريقة التي نسج بها هيرمان كوخ خيوط روايته, وتركيبة الشخصيات وتنقلات الراوي بين الأحداث والأزمان أسلوب السرد مميز تشعر معه باضطراب نفسية الراوي وخاصةً في بعض الأحداث التي لم يفسرها أثناء الحكي

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dem

    The Dinner by Herman is certainly a quirky and entertaining read and if you like dark, quirky and different then this one may be for you. I really enjoyed this novel, it certainly packs a punch. Take two families, a dinner setting and a couple dangerously delinquent sons and a very disturbing act of criminality that has shocked the nation and you have yourself the plot of a very well written novel. A word of warning! Not every reader is going to love this one...............so if you dislike storie The Dinner by Herman is certainly a quirky and entertaining read and if you like dark, quirky and different then this one may be for you. I really enjoyed this novel, it certainly packs a punch. Take two families, a dinner setting and a couple dangerously delinquent sons and a very disturbing act of criminality that has shocked the nation and you have yourself the plot of a very well written novel. A word of warning! Not every reader is going to love this one...............so if you dislike stories with dislikeable characters and unreliable narrators and dark happenings, stay clear. On the other hand if you like dark novels like Gone Girl and Defending Jacob and we need to talk about Kevin I think you will enjoy this book. There are some great lines in this book; You say something so razor-sharp that the person you say it to carries it around with them for the rest of their life. When the conversation turns too quickly to films, I see it as a sign of weakness, I mean films are more something for the end of the evening, when you dont have much else to talk about. I loved the premise of this novel, how far parents will go to protect a child and it really is a book that gets you thinking, What IF... This is a book that asks difficult questions and the plot is slow but shocking, I especially loved the build-up to the revelations and the way in which the story was narrated by Paul. This Novel would make an excellent book club read, as the characters and revelations make for excellent discussion. I could imagine a book club getting great mileage out of this one. A great read and a very thought provoking novel.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    The bestselling, Dutch-translated novel The Dinner by Herman Koch is structured around a less-featured trope: a group of people gathering in a singular location. Personally, I’m a huge fan of this narrative element. With only one setting featured, books (and movies) within this category naturally focus on character. Psychological machinations are revealed & moral complexities explored. It can be a very effective plot device, but one that’s potentially unappealing to the masses. Despite my lo The bestselling, Dutch-translated novel The Dinner by Herman Koch is structured around a less-featured trope: a group of people gathering in a singular location. Personally, I’m a huge fan of this narrative element. With only one setting featured, books (and movies) within this category naturally focus on character. Psychological machinations are revealed & moral complexities explored. It can be a very effective plot device, but one that’s potentially unappealing to the masses. Despite my love for this trope, I always have a difficult time rating these works. Did I enjoy The Dinner? Yes. Will most readers? Probably not. And given that disparity, I hesitate to make a broad recommendation for the work. It’s a very specific story with a very specific audience. Marketing promoted The Dinner as a european Gone Girl. Clearly an attempt for mass appeal. But it’s a deceptive strategy. The Dinner is only similar to Gone Girl in the most general sense. Those expecting a quickly paced, overtly chilling story are primed for disappointment. The Dinner is a slower moving, considerate piece reliant on reader attention. As the title indicates, the entirety of the book is based around a dinner. Two couples, brothers accompanied by their spouses, meet at a swanky Amsterdam restaurant to discuss a horrific event perpetrated by their children. Basically a “what should we do about the kids” situation. The story is divided into sections, each named for a different meal course. Paul, one of the two brothers, is our guide to this progressively deteriorating affair. And Paul’s first-person narration is both the book’s genius and its failure. The Dinner relies on the assumption that first-person narration naturally endears readers to the lead character. Being witness to a narrator’s inner-most thoughts increases the likelihood that we’ll accept his or her perceptions as fact. In The Dinner, our experience is entirely filtered through Paul. Paul’s obvious disdain for his politician brother, Serge is established early. Serge never reserves a table three months in advance. Serge makes the reservation on the day itself--he says he thinks of it as a sport. You have restaurants that reserve a table for people like Serge Lohman, and this restaurant happens to be one of them…..It makes you wonder whether there isn’t one restaurant in the whole country where they don’t faint right away when they hear the name Serge Lohman on the phone. He doesn’t make the call himself, of course; he lets his secretary or one of his assistants do that. Paul’s cynical, misanthropic outlook on life and evident contempt for the restaurant’s pretentious trappings is darkly humorous. Couple that with Paul’s respect and admiration for his wife, Claire, and it becomes easy to assume his viewpoint. He’s a middle-class, former teacher with a seemingly blissful, yet ordinary homelife. Paul’s no slick-talking, superficially charming politician like his brother. Uh-uh. Paul’s an introspective, educated guy rightfully skewering the upper class. He’s a man of the people. And it’s that early appeal that lulls readers into a purposely false sense of security. We believe Serge is inauthentic and boorish, that Paul and Claire are the story’s moral compass, because we trust Paul. We assume his opinions are accurate and just. And it’s in this manipulation that the tale’s brilliance lies. HOWEVER, the novel’s genius is simultaneously its undoing. We spend so much time in Paul’s head that readers may drown in his nonsensical ramblings. The dinner, and interactions with Serge and his sister-in-law Babette, is not a-thrill-a-minute. The narrative focuses far more on Paul, his backstory, and various opinions. Like one long soliloquy. And when I say long, I mean LONG. What happens and is said at dinner is sparse compared to Paul’s repeated tangents. I enjoy extensive character introspection, many readers do not. In fact, about 100 pages in, I predict most readers will say WHY IS NOTHING HAPPENING??? I’M SO BORED. The Dinner is composed of measured revelations. Breadcrumbs purposely planted. But it takes a WHILE before those breadcrumbs take shape. Early on the dinner’s mainly occupied with the kind of artificial small talk we share with acquaintances. Recent holidays, movies enjoyed, career updates...BLAH, BLAH. BLAH. Slowly the polite veneer wears off and true personalities emerge. Slowly being the operative word. Readers have to be patient. Really, really patient. You have to to enjoy, or at least tolerate aimless musing. And inconsequential rambling is not a quality many readers are looking for in a book. They’re there to be entertained, so want SOMETHING….ANYTHING to happen. And justifiably so. I get it. So if that’s you, The Dinner ain’t your kinda book. At its core this is a story about the impact of violence on a family. The rippling effects. And the lengths parents are willing to go to protect their children. It’s an interesting topic relatable to many people. The ending, though, sadly shies away from any meaningful statement. The story’s darkness unfulfilled. The plot goes one way, then bails at the last minute. Wimps out. The conclusion is just too tidy. And darkness & tidiness are not suitable companions.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pattie

    I couldn't wait for this book to be publshed in the U.S. but I wound up being very disappointed in it. To begin with, the character who narrates the book comes across as petty, childish, and irritating from the opening pages. He was never a sympathetic character, although I believe he initially was supposed to be, in comparison to his brother. The brother, a boorish, pompous and larger than life figure, actually had more heart in the long run. In addition, I didn't find it believable that these I couldn't wait for this book to be publshed in the U.S. but I wound up being very disappointed in it. To begin with, the character who narrates the book comes across as petty, childish, and irritating from the opening pages. He was never a sympathetic character, although I believe he initially was supposed to be, in comparison to his brother. The brother, a boorish, pompous and larger than life figure, actually had more heart in the long run. In addition, I didn't find it believable that these two couples, related by blood, would go to a high end restaurant where one member of the foursome is a well-known up and coming politician to discuss a private, disturbing, life-altering matter regarding their children. Wouldn't they simply meet at one of their houses to discuss this? Some of the events that unfold and personality traits that are revealed are somewhat over the top. One of the four would already either be institutionalized or behind bars for prior actions described. The buildup is not as expected or should be. I felt cheated by this book and the fact that all the characters lack such a moral compass. The ones who show a flash of morality near the end have it quickly snuffed out by the other characters. It is a decidedly unsatisfying, and not very believable, read.

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