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 15-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 shows 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.
©2009 Herman Koch; Translation © 2012 by Sam Garrett (P)2013 AudioGO
I love to read books set in interesting places or historical settings. I especially love mysteries and thrillers.
When I first read the summary of this new novel, I was so intrigued that I "pre-ordered" the book before reading the first review. I am so glad that I did because it is a dinner I will never forget. I got very caught up in the story right away despite the fact that during the entire first third of the story you don't even know why two brothers, Serge and Paul, and their wives, Babette and Claire, have come together at a restaurant to discuss some terrible subject that involves their children.
This story starts with the ritzy restaurant and includes all five courses from "Apertif" to "The Tip". Paul, the narrator, has many (even too many) long-winded and disdainful thoughts about everything from the menu, to the outfits of the wait staff, to his brother and his family and politics. As more information about Paul and his family comes out, you begin to realize in horrifying degrees that all is not as it seems. The middle of the story was somewhat tedious, but the ending is so strong and sickening. It is the ultimate story of what parents will do to protect their children, no matter what they have done.
I strongly recommend this book and can't wait until more people read it so that I can discuss it with someone. The narrator did an outstanding job. I am still hearing his voice in my head as I can't stop thinking of this story. Loved it!
Say something about yourself!
Paul and Claire Lohman...the morally nihilistic parenting team "in comparison with whom Caligula's horse was respectable"...
What is the joke about call me anything just don't call me late for dinner? This is the exception Dinner. Paul and Claire are meeting for dinner with Pauls' brother and his wife to discuss their teenaged sons and some serious trouble. The whole story is served up in one meal; with each course, more of the story is revealed. The restaurant is one of those Bourgeoisie establishments that relishes in detailing each artistic Lilliputian course, down to the PETA approved loving care the little lamb received before it was butchered for its sweetbreads that are now served "lightly sautéed in Moroccan olive oil and presented with white currants"...the server's pinky hooked and pointing out the fine details. The incongruity of that description stuck in my mind; and as the events are laid on the table, I wondered about the ethical treatment pre-butchering, the beautiful presentation of slaughter...there's an analogy coming? a statement about brutal society mayhaps?
Koch tortures you with the details, that banal, tiresome drivel taken to the extreme, the back and forth bickering, adding a sense of taut irritation to an already tense situation--but this manipulation of the listener becomes tiresomely repetitive. Comparisons have been made to Defending Jacob, We Need To Talk About Kevin, books with the theme of parents protecting their children at all costs. But don't expect to find a likeable or redeeming quality that will allow you empathy for these parents, or even a flicker of parental love to validate the violation of truth and accountability. Koch's complete dedication to the darkness of these characters even eclipses Flynn's Nick and Amy.
If The Silence of the Lambs, Gone Girl, American Psycho, Misery, even Prague Cemetery, are considered *dark*-- Koch has succeeded in creating a darker shade of black. This one left me agreeing that cell phones should not be allowed in restaurants, and feeling that the final course here should have been served with some Pepto.
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Thus begins The Dinner, a novel served up in courses. The food is minimalist, overly described, and at times not especially palatable. The same can be said for this little novel where characters we may not like are thrust before us. Just as the spaces on the plates are greater than the bits of food, what's unsaid about our characters is greater than what we are told.
The Dinner is often compared to Gone Girl. Both feature people acting without conscience and narrators whose voices don't quite ring true. Most readers prefer Gone Girl for its strong narrative pacing, but I was dissapointed by GG, while I loved The Dinner. I found the characters here to be much more interesting, and I enjoyed the structure of this novel, where the current action takes place over a few hours, while recollections fill in the story.
The audio narration by Clive Mantle was masterful. One of the best out of the several hundred books I've listened to. This is one where the audio narration elevates a good book to an amazing "reading" experience.
The narrator was fabulous, loved his voice and could have listened to him for days, in fact, because of his voice I listened longer that I would normally.
No, never read twice, but loved it.
Wonderful accents, intonation. Compassion for characters.
Laughed out loud at the critique of the restaurant.
"Twists" isn't quite the right word. This book just went in directions I didn't expect it to go and I loved it. It sneaks up on you and before you know it, nothing is what it seems. I really liked this book. It's dark and surprising.
No, just this particular author.
His narration was pretty good.
I kept waiting for something more revealing.
I heard an interview with this author on NPR. It sounded interesting as the host did not want to divulge too much and ruin the book. Throughout the book it felt like it was building to some sort of twist or something interesting...and it never really got there.
Lots of narrative, but not much story. The real story line doesn't begin until you're two-thirds through the book and then the story itself is not very interesting.
The narration is very good and Mr. Mantle's voice & accent are pleasant and additive to an otherwise boring book.
This audiobook ranks in my list of top 10, with its twists in the plot and overall storyline.
I rarely get to listen to books in one sitting, but I looked forward to listening during my morning workout or commute.
I enjoy a variety of books including mysteries, historical fiction as well as young adult and children's literature. Listening to books gives me the ability to "read" in the car as well as the evening as a nightcap before bed.
This book highlights family relationships during a time of extreme stress as well as how ethics and judgement come into play when crimes have been committed. I have to admit I was somewhat shocked by the reactions of many of the characters and wonder how the decisions they made can be justified . This novel is well written and engaging keeping you guessing until the end.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.