The Dinner

The Dinner➾ The Dinner Free ➵ Author Herman Koch – Jobs-in-kingston.co.uk 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 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. 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 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 galand 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 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 That s the oppressive thing about happiness, the way everything is out on the table like an open bookWhen 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 ratingsthan any other And I get why This is the kind oThat s the oppressive thing about happiness, the way everything is out on the table like an open bookWhen 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 ratingsthan 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 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 by the family 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 a 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 by the family 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.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 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.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._______________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 Rewritten 23rd Nov 2019 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 The Wall Street Journal has tagged The Dinner as the European Gone Girl I beg to differ and I think that this book shouldappropriately 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 shouldappropriately 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 wella 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 This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here 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 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 wayThe 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 borrowsfrom Crime and Punishment shining a light on the moral elitism of those who believe they can decide that some lives are worththan 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, evenchilling, 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 readby Herman Koch Edit added spoiler alert per GR member request view spoiler Pretentious rot and Dutch version of Gone Girl but with sociopaths food unpalatable I know That was too easy And smug.Sorry hide spoiler Edit added spoiler alert per GR member request view spoiler Pretentious rot and Dutch version of Gone Girl but with sociopaths food unpalatable I know That was too easy And smug.Sorry hide spoiler