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Customer Review

51 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeping it in the family - dicing with death, deception and downfall, 26 July 2012
This review is from: The Dinner (Paperback)
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`The Dinner' is easily digested in a day, in fact I read it on the beach and felt jolly glad of the sausages, bacon, cooked on a driftwood fire simply served, that I had really enjoyed. The dramatic dinner in question is held at the most pompously pretentious of restaurants, each course overly introduced by a manager who cannot help waving his `pinkie' over every morsel detailing its provenance and daring the diners not to appreciate it all. Prissily patronising the patrons. The cost of this evening is terribly high, unbelievably, laughably so, in financial, career and relationship terms.

By happy co incidence tonight Herman Koch, the author who is also a tv producer, was being interviewed on Radio Four's 'Front Row'. There are certainly some Oscar worthy acting performances from his characters. He explains that his book is like a play, in several acts, each corresponding to a course of the meal. It can't actually be performed as such as our narrator, Paul, is also telling us the back-story, and to complicate matters, he is unreliable, prone to fudging issues, he also has his own demons. The given theme is middle class parenting and how far would you go in order to protect your child's future, despite the knowledge that cannot be ignored, that here both boys, cousins, have carried out a dreadful crime.

The foursome held hostage by good manners and the audience of other diners are brothers Serge and Paul with their respective wives Babette and Claire. Serge is set for great things, perhaps to be the next Prime Minister of the Netherlands. He has celebrity status, a golden glow, but he is at a crossroads. Babette is weeping throughout and with good reason. Claire, Paul's wife is attractive, warm, funny and strong. She has a very close bond with her son Michel. Paul is 'non active' which is probably something lost in translation, he is on long term sick leave from his teaching career. As the events unfold certainties are swept away and the true natures of the four are revealed. Exciting, frightening and surprising things happen, there are huge twists at the end, which should keep any book club in discussion for a good while.

It was great to have an early chance to read this book, translated from the Dutch, and to get a taste of another culture from the inside. A dark modern day tragedy resonating with classical themes, it looks set to storm our charts and will be well received by those who enjoy family dilemmas and the chilly winds of schadenfreude. I loved it. Now I'm waiting for Sommerhaus mit Swimmingpool to be translated.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Dec 2012 09:52:39 GMT
Montagnarde says:
I guess others have already given the usual spelling of schadenfreude.

Posted on 23 Dec 2012 09:53:15 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 23 Dec 2012 09:53:35 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Dec 2012 11:57:31 GMT
Thanks, I wasn't quite sure and looked it up used your spelling to correct it now. I can't think of any other words to sum up that embarassingly delicious pleasure to be taken in the downfall of others (in order for some to succeed others must fail)
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Review Details

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Reviewer

Katharine Kirby
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Location: HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom

Top Reviewer Ranking: 220