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The Dinner [Paperback]

Herman Koch
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (280 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Aug 2012
'Funny, provocative and exceedingly dark, this is a brilliantly addictive novel that wraps its hands around your throat on page one and doesn't let go.' SJ Watson

A summer's evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. 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 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, and as civility and friendship disintegrates, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

'What a tremendous book. I loved every single gripping and strange thing about it.' MJ Hyland

'Shivers kept shooting up my backbone as I became engrossed in Koch s darkly disturbing tale of family life... As the dinner disintegrates into mayhem, we discover just how far the middle classes will go to protect their monstrous offspring' Daily Mail

'Rather like The Slap it is set to become a contentious must-read. It may thrill, chill or cheat, but it is riveting' Independent

'I m confidently predicting that The Dinner will become this summer s literary talk of the town... Order yours now' Evening Standard

'A riveting, compelling and deliciously uncomfortable read... This novel is both a punch to the guts and also a tonic. It clears the air. A wonderful book' Christos Tsiolkas

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848873824
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848873827
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (280 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Herman Koch, born in 1953, is a Dutch writer. He was a renowned television actor on the series Jiskefet and a former columnist for the newspaper Volkskrant. His novel The Dinner won the prestigious Publieksprijs Prize in 2009 and went on to be a huge international bestseller. Summer House with Swimming Pool is his seventh novel. He currently lives in Amsterdam.

Product Description

Review

Perfect… Terrifying --Financial Times

The talking point of the summer --Sunday Times

A family drama replete with surprises, so it is important not to give away too much of the plot here. It is enough to say that Mr Koch seizes his readers by the ear, and with a sharp pinch pulls their sympathies this way and that... Proves how powerful fiction can be in illuminating the modern world... The reader does not rise from his table happy and replete so much as stand up suddenly, pale and reeling. Bored with Fifty Shades of Grey and all that brouhaha? Read The Dinner - and taste the shock. --The Economist

About the Author

Herman Koch, born in 1953, is a Dutch writer. He was a renowned television actor on the series Jiskefet and a former columnist for the newspaper Volkskrant. The Dinner is his sixth novel and has already won the prestigious Publieksprijs Prize in 2009. Herman Koch currently lives in Amsterdam.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dinner 5 Aug 2012
By Moonlit TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Dinner has already sold over a million copies in Europe and it is easy to see why. This is a novel with a compelling narrative, easy to read but with a dark heart to it. It will be loved by book groups because there is plenty to discuss here.

It starts off in a fairly light-hearted way with the narrator, Paul Lohman and his wife Claire, on their way to dinner with Paul's brother Serge and his wife Babette. Paul is dryly humorous about his brother's choice of restaurant, the sort of place where people have to book three months in advance, and throughout the book we are treated to descriptions of the pretentious food they are served (the sort of restaurant where food has a provenance: 'the crayfish are dressed in a vinaigrette of estragon and baby green onions ... and these are chanterelles from the Vosges'). But this is no ordinary dinner party. There is a family crisis which they have to discuss. Both couples have a fifteen year old son and both couples know that their sons have been involved in a horrific act of violence which has been caught on CCTV and shown on national TV. The Lohmans have to decide what they are going to do about this and naturally there are differences of opinion.

As the novel progresses we are given snippets of information about the past and gradually it becomes clear that Paul is an unreliable narrator. This ensures that we never quite know where our sympathies should lie (other than with the victim of the boys' crime, of course).

Koch has said that he got the idea for the book from a similar incident of violence in Spain (where he now lives). What shocked people most was that the boys involved in the crime came from stable middle class families and it set him thinking 'what if ...'. On its own this idea would have been quite a good idea for a novel but Koch's characterisation of the Lohman brothers lifts it to another level and the startling climax will get the book groups going. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a waste of time..... 20 Jan 2014
By Mr DJS
Format:Paperback
Like others I was drawn to this by the gushing reviews. Don't waste your time reading this tosh. Loathsome characters, flimsy structure and WAY too long!
Life's too short to waste time on this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, compelling and full of surprises 2 May 2013
By Megan ReadingInTheSunshine TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
On an evening in Amsterdam a couple approaches a restaurant, intending to meet another couple for dinner. The couple, our narrator Paul, and his wife Claire, seem a bit distracted and apprehensive about the evening. We soon learn that they are meeting for dinner with the Lohmans - who turn out to be Paul's brother Serge, and his wife Babette. Serge is a very successful politician, who inevitably draws many stares and whispers from the other diners in the restaurant. Paul doesn't seem to like his brother Serge, so why are they meeting for dinner? It soon emerges that they are there to discuss their teenage sons, who have committed a terrible crime...

The Dinner is truly unlike anything I have ever read before, but in a good way. I was intrigued by the description but as soon as I started reading I immediately got the impression that all was not as it seemed, and so I was drawn into the story, keen to know more.

The book takes place over the span of one evening, more specifically, the dinner that the two couples are attending. The novel is split into `courses', with each section of the book relating to a certain course in the meal. I really loved this idea, because as the courses progressed, a little more of the story was unravelled and the reader could digest this the way they would a meal. I was very curious to see how Herman could keep up an entire book over the course of one dinner, but he did it and it worked! Our narrator Paul takes us through his thought processes, from what he thinks of his brother, to the actual dinner and how it seems to be more of a performance with the waiter pointing out the finer details of the food, to the revelation of what their sons have done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars certainky nit a rivetting read!! 7 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Quite a boring read overall. The plot was a long time coming and kept darting about without getting to the point andthen it seemed to fizzle out. Wouldnot recommend!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
The Dinner begins with Paul and Claire meeting up with Paul's brother Serge and his wife Babette in an upmarket restaurant. Paul is not looking forward to the meal and hold many grudges against his brother for actions that go right back to childhood. We are told that Serge is an ambitious politician headed for the top but with deeply irritating flaws. But as the meal progresses Paul reveals more and more about his own personality - much of it very negative. He is the unreliable narrator par excellence!

We are told that there are there to discuss some problem with their teenage children who have, it transpires, taken part in a horrific crime. If this becomes public it will blight Serge's career as well as the future of the boys. These are intelligent, educated middle-class parents so they will obviously know the right thing to do - or do they?

Once I had started to read The Dinner I found it hard to put down and wanted to know what happens. However I cannot actually say that I enjoyed it. It is very well structured and moves us seamlessly from the dining table to past incidents. All the time we learn more and more about the couples and their shifting moral compass.

It was a clever literary device to set the plot in a pretentious restaurant but I did find it hard to believe that anyone would choose such a public place to discuss such a sensitive issue. The film Carnage covered a similar theme but this was set in a private apartment where four people begin off having a civilised conversation about their children which becomes more and more furious. Much more realistic.

A compelling read about people with few redeeming features.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Reader Digested
This is a book about the difference between the natural and the social. Dining, as a symbol of this dichotomy, also works as a metaphor for reading - 'digesting' a book - and here... Read more
Published 11 hours ago by Freelancer Frank
5.0 out of 5 stars Lindab
A tale told in an unusual manner. Quite true though as to the lengths a person will go to protecting their own! I enjoyed this book.
Published 6 days ago by LindaB
3.0 out of 5 stars A story of brotherly rivalry.
I felt that there were too many flawed characters in this book Both brothers obviously had long-term issues that we didn't get to the bottom of, and their children followed suit,... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Janet Ross Wallington
3.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, intriguing, albeit ultimately shallow
Picked it up in a charity shop and would have resented spending much more on it... I get the contemporary thriller comparison with Gone Girl (and feel similarly about the two, in... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Cesc15
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great
This was my book club choice. It provided plenty to talk about which was a good thing and it was unusual being mainly set in a restaurant. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Karen Saville
2.0 out of 5 stars I didn't want to spend anymore time in this horrible man's head
This book takes place over the course of one evening as two brothers and their wives have dinner in an expensive restaurant. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Julia Flyte
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyable
I thought this book was great. Can any book live up to the hype? I don't know but I'm glad I read it before I knew about the hype.
Published 1 month ago by Honey
4.0 out of 5 stars ‘As long as nothing happens, nothing is happening.’
Paul Lohman and his wife Claire are waiting at the upmarket restaurant, selected by Paul’s brother Serge, for Serge and his wife Babette to arrive. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jennifer Cameron-Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars Do not understand the hype
I read this after seeing people read it and hearing lots about it. It tells the story of Paul and Serge Lohman who are brothers and their families who meet to discuss their... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Justhavingfun
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, thoughtful and compulsive page turner
I started reading this and couldn't put it down - start to finish in about 5 hours! If you like excellent characterisation, imagery, mood and the juxtaposition of past and present... Read more
Published 1 month ago by cycling mum
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