Friday, April 5, 2013

The Dinner

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 30.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

Summary (copied from Goodreads):
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.

My opinion:
This book made me so uncomfortable, and the only way I can write this review is through points and counterpoints that reflect how I can like and hate it at the same time. 

Point:  the book was well-written, and I had no trouble feeling the underlying tension throughout the entire thing.
Counterpoint:  there was so much tension that I had a constant feeling of anxious nausea while reading it.

Point:  it made me think about what I would do if faced with a similar situation (answer: the complete opposite of what was done in the book).
Counterpoint:  the only way I can sleep tonight is by reminding myself this is a work of fiction and pretending that there aren't humans out there who really behave this way.

Point: it is definitely a book to talk about, and I look forward to discussing it with my fabulous posse (read what they had to say about this book and many others here: Lindsey's Book BlogThe Insomniac Bibliophile, and My Posse Book Blog).
Counterpoint:  I can't talk about it without my skin crawling.

Yes, this book has all the qualities of a good book (grabbed my attention, made me think, and touched me emotionally).  No, I didn't like it.  How's that for a clear-as-mud review?


  1. this one's on my list...i think i read somewhere that it was a good recommendation for those who liked "gone girl"?? might have made that up.

    1. I've also seen many comparisons of this to Gone Girl. I can't speak personally since I haven't read it yet (on my never-ending list) but the general consensus seems to be Gone Girl was much better.
      I'd love to hear what you think if/when you read it!