REVIEW

THE DINNER - Herman Koch

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Should have suspected something when a friend lent me this book. There was something about the gleam in their eye that sort of suggested that this could be talked about long into the night. And boy has it been already.

Classically slow burning, obscure and cleverly done, two brothers and their wives meet for dinner one night. One brother, famous, wealthy and with the behaviour and personality that goes with that. The other brother quieter, almost repressed. Initially it seems like these brothers could be at dinner simply to annoy each other, to pick fault, to laud it over each other. Only there are two fifteen-year-old sons as well, and how much each parent knows about what their sons have done isn't always clear, nor is it obvious that they will ever agree on what needs to be done about it.

Complex and nuanced, this is just the sort of book that I love. Partially because I just knew from the moment I picked it up, it's just the thing for one of those long, late, loud, big discussions about it. THE DINNER is going to be one of those books that will most likely polarise readers. Personally I thought it was fascinating.

BOOK DETAILS
BOOK INFORMATION
Author
ISBN
9780770437855
Year of Publication
BLURB

A 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.

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