Dinner (Koch)

The Dinner
Herman Koch, 2009 (the Netherlands), 2013 (USA)
Crown Publishing
304 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780770437855



Summary
An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives—all over the course of one meal.

It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse—the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, 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.

Tautly written, incredibly gripping, and told by an unforgettable narrator, The Dinner promises to be the topic of countless dinner party debates. Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—September 5, 1953
Raised—Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Education—N/A
Awards—Publieksprijs (the Netherlands)
Currently—lives in Amsterdam


Herman Koch is a Dutch writer and actor. He is the author of three collections of short stories, seven novels, and articles. His 1985 debut was De voorbijganger (The Passerby), a collection of short stories. His first novel Red ons, Maria Montanelli (Save Us, Maria Montanelli) was published in 1989. Het diner (The Dinner), his sixth novel, was issued in 2009 and recieved the Netherlands' Publieksprijs. It has been translated into 21 languages and sold over one million copies throughout Europe.

Koch is a also comedy actor, contributing to the comedy shows Borát (1984–1989) for radio, and Jiskefet (1990–2005) for television. (Adapted from the publisher and Wikipedia.)



Book Reviews
A European Gone Girl…. The Dinner, a sly psychological thriller that hinges on a horrific crime and its consequences for two families, has become one of spring’s most anticipated suspense novels.
Wall Street Journal
 

[The Dinner] proves how powerful fiction can be in illuminating the modern world.... The reader does not rise from his table happy and replete so much as stand up suddenly, pale and reeling. Bored with Fifty Shades of Grey and all that brouhaha? Read The Dinner—and taste the shock.
Economist


(Starred review.) This chilling novel starts out as a witty look at contemporary manners...before turning into a take-no-prisoners psychological thriller. The Lohman brothers, unemployed teacher Paul and politician Serge, a candidate for prime minister, meet at an expensive Amsterdam restaurant, along with their respective spouses, Claire and Babette, to discuss a situation involving their respective 15-year-old sons, Michel and Rick. At first, the two couples discuss such pleasantries as wine and the new Woody Allen film. But during this five-course dinner, from aperitif to digestif, secrets come out that threaten relations between the two families. To say much more would spoil the breathtaking twists and turns of the plot, which slowly strips away layers of civility to expose the primal depths of supposedly model citizens, not to mention one character’s past history of mental illness and violence. With dark humor, Koch dramatizes the lengths to which people will go to preserve a comfortable way of life. Despite a few too-convenient contrivances, this is a cunningly crafted thriller that will never allow you to look at a serviette in the same way again
Publishers Weekly


An international best seller as winner of the Publieksprijs prize, this book features two couples at a posh restaurant in Amsterdam chatting politely before finally addressing the real issue: their teenage sons have been caught on film in a gruesome criminal act that has shaken the nation.
Library Journal


Mesmerizing and disturbing…fast-paced and addictive…The Dinner, already a bestseller in Europe, is sure to find an enthusiastic American readership as well.
BookPage


A high-class meal provides an unlikely window into privilege, violence and madness. Paul, the narrator of this caustic tale...prepare[s] for a pricey dinner with his brother and sister-in-law.... The mood is mysteriously tense in the opening chapters, as the foursome talk around each other.... Koch's slow revelation of the central crisis is expertly paced, and he's opened up a serious question of what parents owe their children, and how much of their character is passed on to them. At its best, a chilling vision of the ugliness of keeping up appearances.
Kirkus Reviews



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