The Dinner

The Dinner by Herman Koch; 2013

I got The Dinner from the library a couple of years ago and read about 50 pages, but didn’t have time to finish it. I picked it up again over the long weekend and it was a delightful, fast read. The Dinner is a translated novel by the Dutch writer Herman Koch. The novel’s premise is the gathering of two couples for dinner at a high-end restaurant. They have something important to discuss involving their two teenage sons. Paul is one of the diners and the narrator of the evening. Trust that we learn every detail about each course of the meal.

The book relies on the gradual disclosure of secrets, and it progresses with a mounting nastiness and brutality. That said, it is definitely more attuned to the cultural norms and expectations of a European society. It’s more of a thriller than a mystery.

As more times passes from when I finished the book, I actually like it more and more. I gave it a solid “3” on Goodreads when I finished, but now I’m leaning more towards a 4. I think I was initially just flat-out disturbed, but the more time I have away from it, the more I can appreciate its structure and what Koch was able to achieve. It’s sinister, and it really makes you think about moral choices. Now that I know the outcome I’m tempted to turn around and read it again, paying closer attention to the details.


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