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The Dinner book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, h. It is a rather better book that acts as the model for Dutch author Herman Koch's The Dinner, which has sold more than a million copies across. The Dinner (Dutch: Het diner) is a novel by the Dutch author Herman Koch. The book was first published by Ambo Anthos in It was translated into English.

The Dinner Book

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“The Dinner,” the newly translated novel by the Dutch writer Herman Koch, has There is a bracing nastiness to this book that grows ever more. The Dinner [Herman Koch] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers . Now a major motion picture starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve. Editorial Reviews. Review. Amazon Best Books of the Month, February A good unreliable narrator is one of the most satisfying characters a.

I can't begin to describe how irritated and ripped off I felt by this book. 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.

View all 68 comments. 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 I actually went back and forth about whether to give it three stars or four stars for quite awhile.

I am going to l I really detested every character in this book with the exception of Serge, him I just disliked. 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 I feel to get the most enjoyment out of reading it, you really should go in blind.

View all 40 comments. View all 74 comments. Now look at the ratings for The Dinner. There are an overwhelming number of 3 star ratings more than 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: 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. View all 37 comments.

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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.

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. 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. View all 17 comments. 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. 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 so far! View all 34 comments. 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 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. View all 16 comments. Update 3 July 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. I have tried to be oblique but anything I say will ruin the book if you are going to read it, so view spoiler [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 pol Update 3 July If you've read the book and thought nothing like that could ever really happen, read the news. 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 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. 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.

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.

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. View all 21 comments. I know. That was too easy.

And smug. View all 28 comments. Il romanzo ha un suo percorso, ho attraversato fasi diverse leggendolo: Poi, mi sono detto, oh che bello, le due donne ne vengon fuori bene, sono le vere figure positive.

Viene fuori un quadro abbastanza agghiacciante, senza nulla togliere al divertimento e alla piacevolezza della lettura. View all 23 comments. I'm a huge fan of books that explore how far we'll go for those we love, particularly our children. It's due to be published in the states in February This is a book that begs eating metaphors so I'll try to spare you but it won't be easy.

The Dinner is laid out in courses, from aperitif to digestif and is excellently plotted. You learn early on that this dinner is not the typical happy family outing.

Brot I'm a huge fan of books that explore how far we'll go for those we love, particularly our children. Brothers Serge and Paul and their wives have met to discuss their children and some trouble the boys, cousins Rick and Michel have gotten themselves into. It's not immediately apparent whether this trouble is the usual stuff the poor judgment of teens produces or if it's something more serious.

The tension at the table is evident from the get-go. The rivalry between Paul and Serge is palatable. Serge picked the restaurant, over priced and showy where only someone with his celebrity status could hope to get a table.

He's running for and likely to become the next Prime Minister. In contrast, Paul is an out of work former teacher carrying lots of baggage. Between apertif and dessert, with the in-between courses going from civilized to acrid hostility, the no good deed is revealed.

What lengths will these parents go to in order to save their child? When I last picked up my napkin, dabbed my lips and placed it on the table, I wish there were a character I liked. None were appetizing and I was left feeling a bit nauseous. Not quite content and yet, wanting no more, even though some morsel was missing.

Call for the check and let me out of here. Given time to digest, I relished in the deliciousness of the plot and this serving of evil. There's enough to chew on here for a good book discussion. View all 26 comments.

No One. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. What would this artificial voice sound like if its owner were to be dragged into a barn by a pair of French bricklayers?

So drunk they could no longer tell the difference between a woman and the ruins of a cottage with only the walls still standing? Would she still be shooting off her mouth Two white, rich, soulless, violent sociopaths have a child and that child is growing up to become a soulless, violent sociopath as well. You get the idea that something is wrong with our narrator, Paul, early on. It's only later that you realize that he has put multiple people in the hospital.

And it's not until very close to the end of the novel that you realize his wife is just as bad as he is. Until then you have a hope or a sympathy that perhaps she is a good person.

The son they create is exactly the kind of son you'd think would be created by the union of and then raising by two monsters. The kind of rich kid who sets a homeless woman on fire and thinks it's funny and is actually a favor to society. I can't say this book is very fun to read.

Lohman," he said. Then I punched him squarely in the nose. Right away there was blood, lots of blood: By that time I had come around the desk and hit him in the face again, lower down this time. His teeth hurt my knuckles as they broke off. He screamed.

But now I feel like this is not only old hat, but rather painful to read. There's no resolution. No one gets their comeuppance or punishment.

Good people are murdered and maimed and the soulless go on with their existence, happy and rich and complete. Does this satisfy anyone? It might be fun in a shocking way if it's the first book of this kind you've ever read, but if you've read GONE GIRL then this is going to be more of the same for you.

It's realistic. I'm laughing at how many people defend this kind of novel by saying, "Well, it's realistic. Great, fine. That's not why I read fiction, emphasis on 'fiction.

What I feel when I shut this book is despair, disappointment, and apathy.

The Dinner Summary & Study Guide

That's NOT the way I want a book to make me feel. I am very disinterested in this burgeoning subgenre called "sick fucks kill and hurt people, then live happy and long lives being sick fucks and raising other sick fucks. Here's your fix. However, if you are tired and annoyed of MCs with no shred of humanity, not even the tiniest shred - stay far away from this, which seems like a tired re-hash of ideas already hashed. Also, this book purports that being a soulless sick fuck is an inherited genetic trait.

And that you can sense this disease - be tested for it when you are in utero, amniotic fluid test - and if your fetus has this disease you should abort it. It's strongly hinted in the book that Koch's talking about Asperger's. What a bunch of shit. All of this is shit. What is this, The Bad Seed , where some people are born soulless, and just "Oh, well.

People with Asperger's are fine. What is this author implying? If you are on the autism spectrum or not neurotypical that you are a murdering asshole who maims and kills people when things don't go your way?

I wish this whole "I have a disorder, we should have aborted my nowyear-old-son in the womb because people with this neurological disorder are soulless and will probably become serial killers" was left out.

I mean, what the fuck, dude? If you just realized the dad the main character was fucked up, and then got to toy around with the idea in your mind like, "Nature or nurture? Is his son soulless because he inherited his dad's no-soul gene, or did growing up with a dad who literally bashed people's faces into a bloody pulp when they got in his way make his child think such behavior was acceptable?

But no, Koch has to make Paul the MC dad go to a psychologist who informs him that if they had had in-utero testing 30 or 40 years ago, Paul himself would've been aborted. Because being a soulless killer is an "illness" that can be detected in the womb and preemptively stopped. Fuck this shit. Koch comes off as an ableist jerk here, demonizing autism and Asperger's and thinking he can get away with it because he doesn't say "the A-word," as my friend calls it.

This book is really angering me on many levels. Isn't it difficult enough to navigate a neurotypical world without having people write books about autistic killers who go around murdering people?

I'm very angry. People keep saying "This book is about the lengths you'll go to protect your family" and to me that is not what this book was about, AT ALL. I guess every reader does read a different book. Gone Girl A Bum Deal: An Unlikely Journey from Hopeless to Humanitarian View all 53 comments. What a fun dinner experience that was! Everything was going so well during drinks and appetizers. Just a nice meal in a super fancy restaurant.

Luckily, Serge knew people since he was a politician and all, maybe even the next prime minister! The first third of the book was just that Pages and pages of beautiful descriptions, subtle humor, not so subtle humor, and casual conversation.

The whole book could have stayed right the Wow! The whole book could have stayed right there and I wouldn't have minded at all. But, ohhh what happened We gotta talk about the children.

And that's when the main course got really, really dark and you got to know everyone a little too well, more details than you ever wanted to know, stories of the past that shouldn't really be unearthed. Not here, not at dinner. People will say, "Ugh, I didn't like any of the characters. They were all so awful. Boo hoo hoo. I was never rooting for anyone.

I don't think that's the point of the book. Yeah, it seems absurd that these parents had to make what we may see as easy decisions, right? But, man, we're not running for prime minister, and aren't we all selfish at our core anyway? Doesn't this maybe point out that we're probably always going to look out for ourselves, and isn't that worse? How different am I from these people? I loved the twists and turns of the novel, diving into Paul's past and his relationship with his brother.

It didn't turn these people into anti-heroes or make me feel for them, but it made them three dimensional even if they were still pretty awful.

The way this book took a sharp turn and didn't lay off the brakes from there was fantastic. I didn't think there was a moment wasted, and I loved each section of the meal. I would even argue that it ended a little too abruptly after the slow climb to get there.

I would have liked a few more pages, maybe an epilogue or something. I don't know. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I knocked out most of it in a day. I would definitely recommend it for something a little darker, but please, for the love of God Don't compare this to Gone Girl. View all 33 comments. 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. Now that I got that out of the way The 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?

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. 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 borrows more from Crime and Punishment - shining a light on the moral elitism of those who believe they can decide that some lives are worth more than 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, even more chilling, 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 read more by Herman Koch. View all 45 comments. This is a book that polarises opinion. In some respects it could be viewed as being provocative, voyeuristic and dark; in other ways it could be seen as being unpleasant and incredibly dull. I, for instance, love the movie Lost in Translation and consider it to be a masterpiece.

My wife, on the other hand, finds it ponderous and aimless. As an inveterate people watcher, I love witnessing families having bust-ups in restaurants and other public places, as long as I'm not anywhere near them. I also This is a book that polarises opinion. I also watch cringeworthy social gaffes on TV through my fingers, all the while groaning with embarrassment, yet continuing to gawp.

So, if like me you love to eavesdrop while fragile relationships unravel in restaurants, then this might be your thing.

If you prefer your main characters to all be agreeable and charming, then this definitely won't suit! View all 36 comments. I got the dvd of the movie of this book, and just as I was about to play it I said to myself hold on, I already watched this movie; and then I wasn't sure - had I already seen it or not? What a puzzle! But the book had instilled such strong scenes and dialogues within the portals of my brain that I thought I had.

I think that deserves another half star. And I Update: And I do recommend the dvd, a very bitter affair, less hideously funny than the book, and arguably better. Except for Steve Cogan pretending to be an American - I don't know why they do that.

It's like Dr Johnson's dog walking on two legs. Mais non! I say. Both books are about extremely irritating people, it must be admitted. It is an organic farm established by monks in So all that is quite amusing.

The Dinner

It is two brothers and their wives who are eating this dinner. Or actually pecking at it then jumping up and rushing outside to make a mysterious phone call. Gradually the ghastly family secrets are unveiled. Each brother has a 15 year old son and the two of them have been spoiler-oiler which is enough to put a person off his escargots. So very spoilerish things have happened and indeed will happen. And I cannot say any more than that.

I rattled through this and as I did the movie was already forming in my brain. I see fluid camerawork swirling round and round the table and many revolting close-ups of the fancy grub. Steve Coogan? Is there time to change that? Three stars. Kind of sort of slightly recommended. Haute cuisine is what they eat in this novel but The Dinner is strictly burger and fries.

View all 14 comments. Apr 29, Will M. Fans of Gillian Flynn. I can consider this one of the few messed up novels that amazed me by its darkness. This is one of those circumstances wherein I'm glad I didn't listen to the bad reviews, and the low overall rating of the novel.

Opinions vary, so stick with your gut. If the novel seems like something you'd enjoy, then don't hesitate to give it a I can consider this one of the few messed up novels that amazed me by its darkness. If the novel seems like something you'd enjoy, then don't hesitate to give it a read. Halfway through the novel I decided to consider this as the epitome of contemporary fiction, among all the novels that I've read so far.

Palahniuk tried that style with me, but failed miserably. Koch on the other hand managed to make me like the novel even more because of the rambling.

I cared about what he was trying to point out, and everything the main character said only made me like him better. This novel, like I said, was messed up.

If you're not a fan of dark fiction, then I'd suggest you avoid this. It's not gut-wrenching in the same way as some gore-y horror movies, but the outcome would make you question the sanity of the characters, or even the author himself. I'm a fan of out of norm fiction, so that means I don't mind if the author tackles on topics that are profane and socially unacceptable. I'm not one to promote such activities, of course, because I'm against them, but writing about those doesn't mean that the author automatically thinks that it's supposed to be right.

The plot took a while for it to develop. Halfway through I honestly still didn't know what was the main focus of the novel. The secret wasn't revealed then and I was impatiently waiting for it to be discussed further. At first I thought that the novel was going to have a terrible plot because of its seemingly nonexistent development, but thankfully I was proven wrong. The characters were the main reason why this novel was messed up. Let me add in the fact though that messed up doesn't mean it was bad.

I mean messed up in a positive way. Psychologically challenged characters are the best to read about, at least for me. Paul, Claire, Serge, and Babette were all amazing, and fully developed in the end. It will not please those who seek the cozy, the redemptive or the uplifting.

If you are such a reader, you may stop right here. Its brutality was seen as a comment on the changing American reality of 20 years ago, and in consequence, many felt it important to have an opinion about the book.

Much is made of the pretensions of the establishment and the preposterousness of its food. The void here, that part of the plate on which no food at all was present, had clearly been raised to a matter of principle.

I tightened my grip around her waist and sniffed: shampoo.

Serge is a highly successful politician, the opposition candidate in the coming national elections. Paul, it should be noted, is a former high school history teacher, retired for medical reasons. But as we come to understand what has brought about this dinner, and what is at stake, it is impossible to continue to side with our narrator.

This, then, is a novel that rests on the disclosure of secrets. The violence is vividly described; in an ugly but all-too-plausible contemporary detail, a video of it has been uploaded to YouTube.The Dinner by Herman Koch. Given time to digest, I relished in the deliciousness of the plot and this serving of evil. 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.

Each of the couples has a year-old son and, we discover, the dinner has been arranged to discuss a horrifying act perpetrated by the two boys. Also keep in mind that Paul is an unreliable narrator and a lot of the stories in the book may be inaccurate or entirely fabricated.