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The Dinner
The Dinner
Author: Herman Koch, Sam Garrett (Translator)
A summer's evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness - the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. — But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780385346856
ISBN-10: 0385346859
Publication Date: 10/29/2013
Pages: 320
Edition: Reprint
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.

3.2 stars, based on 100 ratings
Publisher: Hogarth
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

junie avatar reviewed The Dinner on + 630 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
I hated this book, hated the characters, hated the story, hated the horrific act two teen boys did!!! I finally gave up, closed the book and hope I never see it again! My reading time is precious and I don't like wasting my time! Blah....
pbspam avatar reviewed The Dinner on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Most depressing book I've ever read; not entertaining or enlightening in any way. Only reason I continued to the end was because of our Book Club. Do not recommend unless your Club is focused on dark minds / events.
sfc95 avatar reviewed The Dinner on + 686 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Probably the worst book I have read in terms of its literary quality. I understand that it is translated from another language and in many cases that can come off as choppy, but this is just horrible. The plot and storyline have so much potential but the writing is not there. Thankfully it is a very quick read, so you do not waste a great deal of time, but it is not worth it.
reviewed The Dinner on + 379 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
In Amsterdam, two brothers and their wives meet for a dinner loaded with undercurrents. It's difficult to say which brother is more self-absorbed and pompous - Serge, the politician or Paul, the former high school history teacher forced into an involuntary "sabbatical" due to mental health issues. Their sons have been involved in a crime of unimaginable cruelty, which they are attempting to justify and absolve. The early background leads quickly to the understanding that Paul's son, Michael, has learned at a very young age that his father will protect him from taking responsibility for any wrongdoing. There is a pervasive sense in this book that once the superficial veneer of "a happy family" collapses, nothing is left but the harsh knowledge of their dysfunction as parents and worthwhile people. For those of us who believe that there are consequences for our actions and for those of our children, this is a difficult book to read.
spartacusaby avatar reviewed The Dinner on + 81 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I wouldn't care to read a book like this one every day, but I found "The Dinner" to be a very worthwhile read. It's a really scathing and dark satire and yes, the characters are thoroughly unsympathetic. Their closed ranks and self-centeredness, not to mention their actions, are taken to horrifying extremes;the result is a brutal book you won't soon forget.
Read All 23 Book Reviews of "The Dinner"

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reviewed The Dinner on + 6 more book reviews
Great read! I really identified with the narrator, then slowly changed my opinion when plot twists come.
nantuckerin avatar reviewed The Dinner on + 158 more book reviews
OK, I'll admit it: I'm a little bit of a goldfish when it comes to my reading choices. I tend to avoid foreign authors -- I'm just more comfortable with the average American voice and point of view.

However, I'm trying to stretch my boundaries. And I had heard too many amazing things abut Herman Koch's thriller The Dinner to ignore it because it was a translation.

First - this is a great translation. I didn't notice the awkward use of vernacular or misused word choice that usually marks those titles, in my opinion. And the story is so killer -- pardon the pun -- even a word nerd like me might choose to overlook a poor turn of phrase here or there.

The Dinner is framed in a unique way -- rather than chapters, the book is staged through the courses of an elegant dinner in a Dutch eatery. The main character and his wife are meeting his estranged brother -- a rising political star -- and sister-in-law for dinner. The tension between the characters is palpable from the very first pages, although as readers it takes some time to discover the root of their relationship problems.

As the story moves quickly through dish after dish, Koch masterfully reveals a grim and unexpected mystery within a mystery centering on the couples' children -- three teen boys w ho have committed a horrible act. But the main focus of the story is the clever and unexpected way Koch reveals the true motivations of the diners, the subtle shifts of reliability among the characters, and a interesting take on what we're all capable of doing to protect the ones we love.

As a side note, this book absolutely screams to be a book club choice. It's duplicitous and surprising plots twists provide great discussion points, and everyone is sure to have an opinion after peeling back the layers of these memorable characters.
Chocoholic avatar reviewed The Dinner on + 291 more book reviews
I keep reading reviews of this book which compare it to Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl," which really irks me. That book is about a husband and wife's divorce and things not always being what they seem. There is zero resemblance between Gone Girl and The Dinner, in my mind. If one must compare it to another written work, how about Anna Karenina for the obvious and multiple references?

Okay, off my soapbox.

This is an interesting concept for a story, of two couples sitting down for a meal together to talk about their teenaged sons problems. The couples are related: the two husbands are brothers. One is a prominent politician, the other a man with an interesting mental illness who is the protagonist of the story. The story does jump around in time quite a bit as there is some backstory and characters to develop. The overarching question of the book is how far would you go for your child.

The story had my interest from the get-go, but the first 100-120 pages do tend to get bogged down and for that reason I almost put this book down. In the end, I'm glad I stuck with it as some pivotal events occur about mid-book that suddenly ramped up the tension in the story and made it very hard to put down. Definitely worth a read!
reviewed The Dinner on + 227 more book reviews
This is an intense book. I really enjoyed the narrative, and had a hard time putting it down!

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