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The Dinner Hardcover – 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hogarth (12 Feb 2013) (2012)
  • ASIN: B00BD0SXSC
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (357 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,882,058 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

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.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Megan ReadingInTheSunshine TOP 100 REVIEWER on 2 May 2013
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By thebooktrailer on 27 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
A summer’s evening in Amsterdam. Two couples meet at a restaurant. They talk about what couples do, but beside the seemingly normal and rather cosy chit chat there is utter anguish at despair at what their teenage sons have done.

Their children, their flesh and blood have committed a horrifying act. To make matters worse, they have been caught on camera, grainy CCTV images – despite a police manhunt, the boys remain unidentified – by everyone except their parents.

Asthe parents tuck into their starters, they have to decide what to do. Who really is to blame?

Apart from the setting in a unknown restaurant in Amsterdam, the sense of place is rather that of Dutch society and the role of parents and the portrayal of family life. You won’t like the people in the novel and in fact as I did, you will probably utterly despise them - Paul in particular who as the main narrator has a lot to say for himself about politicians, the state of the world etc etc but whether you can or should believe him is another matter entirely.

The structure of the novel – the serving of each course and the tasting of the various flavours suited this plot perfectly – the pretentiousness of the restaurant staff and the snobbery apparent is pitch perfect

The characters may be hateful yet a good story doesn’t necessarily have to have likable ones to be interesting – and these certainly are multilayered and very complex characters. Paul Lohman is also very dark and as for his brother Serge? Brrrr

Dark secrets in bourgeois families are definitely on the menu -and that’s just for starters – for the main course there is the preoccupation with appearances, and for desert – hiding the skeletons hidden in the closet.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Jan. 2014
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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