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The Dinner

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3.21 of 5 stars 3.21  ·  rating details  ·  50,560 ratings  ·  8,574 reviews
A summer's evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness - the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sha...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Hogarth (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Mark
Hated this book! It felt contrived and stilted. I didn't like any of the characters. I couldn't identify with any of them. None of the dialogue was believable. The situation was farcical (why would you go to a super-expensive, elite restaurant to talk about such a private matter?). The whole book was about protecting the kids from their own actions - their was no sense of personal responsibility, no remorse, no soul searching. The narrator was a violent thug who just whined incessantly the whole...more
karen

so this is probably a safe bet for people who liked Gone Girl. in other words, not you, richard. but it is not nearly as twisty and satisfying as g.g., methinks.

it has the moral bankruptcy of Gone Girl, the shallow people, banal small talk and heavily-done descriptive elements of American Psycho, and the "we are here to talk about our delinquent kids but it isn't going to go well" scenario of The God of Carnage. and why yes, i have only seen the film adaptation, thank you for asking.

the whole t...more
Delee
I really detested every character in this book (with the exception of Serge, him I just disliked). I hated the ending with every fiber of my being. I found myself wanting to put it down numerous times, and I felt physically ill when I realized where the ending was going....and yet I didn't hate the book itself. I actually went back and forth about whether to give it three stars or four stars for quite awhile. If it was possible I would give it 3 1/2 stars, so lets just say I did.

I am going to l...more
Noeleen
The Wall Street Journal has tagged The Dinner as ‘the European Gone Girl’. I beg to differ and I think that this book should more appropriately be tagged ‘the European Defending Jacob'...but hey who am I to question The Wall Street Journal! The Dinner tells the story of two families, the parents of which meet each other over dinner one evening in an exclusive restaurant in Amsterdam. At the heart of the story is a horrific crime which both sons within each family hold equal responsibility.

Koch h...more
Elizabeth
Edit :: added spoiler alert per GR member request.

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Jason
It occurred to me at the end of this story – this is a fascist novel. Not in the sense that the author is fascist or anything of the sort, but rather like pointing to a certain book and recognizing that it is a feminist novel, or a queer novel, or a Southern novel, or what have you. In 'The Dinner' we have a story in which the narrator through a long illuminating story, reveals to the reader the picture of what a secret contempt of all things “weak” or “inferior” -- formulated into an ideology a...more
Carol
I'm a huge fan of books that explore how far we'll go for those we love, particularly our children. When Hogarth Publishers agreed to send me the e-galley of The Dinner I was ecstatic. It's due to be published in the states in February 2013.

This is a book that begs eating metaphors so I'll try to spare you but it won't be easy.

The Dinner is laid out in courses, from aperitif to digestif and is excellently plotted. You learn early on that this dinner is not the typical happy family outing. Brot...more
Jennifer Bock
Sep 27, 2013 Jennifer Bock rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Jennifer by: multiple friends
This may have been one of the worst books I have ever read. I will confess that generally I want to have at least one character that I like. But it's not always necessary. If the plot or situation enthralls me in such a way that I am compelled to keep reading, then I'm happy to. This book however, I kept reading because every review that I read and every recommendation I got from friends said how fabulous this book was. I read to the end hoping it would get better. I hated it.
I hated the fact t...more
RandomAnthony
I understand comparing a book to Gone Girl will push sales, so yay for that comparison plastered on every The Dinner reference. But seriously, motherfuckers, this novel is more like Flynn's Sharp Objects and, in my eyes, better than Gone Girl. So let's stop talking about Gone Girl, even though I liked that book, because, you know, there are other books in the goddamn universe and I'm trying to review one as we speak.

The Dinner's main character is an angry, reflective guy out at a restaurant with...more
Random House of Canada
I'm not quite sure what to say about this book without spoiling it. It is the kind of book that is staying with me, though. I keep thinking about the characters and their choices. The way the author reveals key details slowly and not chronologically really made the story have a huge impact. If you read this book, you're going to want to talk about it!
~Ainsley

P.S. See a spoiler-free gif review here.

___________________________________________

I'm going to have to echo everything Ainsley's said abou...more
Dem
The Dinner by Herman is certainly a quirky and entertaining read and if you like dark, quirky and different then this one may be for you. I really enjoyed this novel, it certainly packs a punch.

Take two families, a dinner setting and a couple dangerously delinquent sons and a very disturbing act of criminality that has shocked the nation and you have yourself the plot of a very well written novel.

A word of warning! Not every reader is going to love this one...............so if you dislike storie...more
Laurel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Judy
My biggest question after reading this captivating story, is why did so many readers only rate this 3 stars? I even read several reviews to try to figure this out. However, I couldn't find a single reason, so will chalk it up as one of those books that make people react strongly. Even though there are a lot of 3 star reviews, the reviewers have strong feelings about the book, strong "meh" feelings.
Me? I really liked the book, but will qualify that with saying the narrator of the audiobook had a...more
Dexter
The Dinner is a simple book on the familiar topic of family secrets and the extremes we go to in keeping them. The story unfolds over a restaurant dinner at an upscale Dutch eating establishment. I loved the organization of the story and the forward momentum which had me finishing this short book in just three sittings. I am a consummate foodie and the descriptions of the hypocritical restaurant culture were some of the best parts of the book for me. I also liked the schaden freude social commen...more
Gregor Xane
I think I fell for every trick the author had up his sleeve on this one. I flew through this book like I was expecting the last page to reveal to me some magical secret of flight or something. Of course, it did nothing of the sort. But I love it when a book hooks me like this book hooked me.

I liked that there is one minor detail that makes this a work of science-fiction. I won't mention what that is, as that would spoil things for the reader. Also, some readers might get to the end and have no...more
Lou
The scene is set, a dinner for four in a Dutch restaurant. The characters are two brothers with their wives.
Many things shall become unraveled in this meeting of sorts a satirical meeting of parents on a dilemma a gruesome discovery that could almost put you off your desert or their desert, will they eat their desert? Well you'll have to find out.
If some dark truths come to light one brothers political campaign may be at risk, decisions and a four course meal to stomach leaves no room for playti...more
Diane S.
First book that I have rated so highly even though I did not like any of the characters. This is a book of moral complexity narrated by an unreliable narrator, who at first seems to take the politeness and political correctness out of all conversations at dinner. He does this basically inside himself, not outside where any can hear but he is extremely skeptical of almost everything. From the beginning the reader knows this is not going to be a lighthearted dinner between siblings, the tension is...more
Jan-Maat
I should probably start this by confessing that I have a problem. It is pretty serious, and a bit sad. I have an addiction to books with short chapters.

It's not yet at the stage were I desperately seek out book with short chapters, it is simply that once I've got a short chaptered book in my hands I'll read it through compulsively. Sometimes I don't even enjoy it that much. I probably need a twelve step programme. I wouldn't like to imagine just quite how bad this could get.

Anyway, this book is...more
Pattie
I couldn't wait for this book to be publshed in the U.S. but I wound up being very disappointed in it. To begin with, the character who narrates the book comes across as petty, childish, and irritating from the opening pages. He was never a sympathetic character, although I believe he initially was supposed to be, in comparison to his brother. The brother, a boorish, pompous and larger than life figure, actually had more heart in the long run. In addition, I didn't find it believable that these...more
Diane Yannick


Two brothers and their wives meet for dinner in a posh restaurant in Amsterdam. During this dinner, they discuss trivialities trying to avoid talking about the crime committed by their sons.

I see this book referred to as a thriller and I would not categorize it this way. For me, it was a psychological study of how far parents are willing to go to protect their children. This is a topic that is universal in its ability to disturb. It is very easy to choose the ethical position UNTIL you love a c...more
Emily Crowe
This book will be published in English by Hogarth Press in May 2013. The edition I'm reading is not listed here on Goodreads yet.

This book defines "unreliable narrator" and while it gets off to a slow start and you think, "Oh, another yuppie/bobo book where people eat fine meals", before too long, it pretty much knocks you over the head with disturbing images and plot. It was totally insidious the way this book worked on me. Not exceptionally written (or perhaps it was in the translation) but t...more
Connie
Two brothers and their wives meet at a rather posh restaurant for "The Dinner". As each course is presented the reader comes to realize that each person at the table has their own agenda, their own secrets and that this is in no way a loving family nor a fun night out on the town!

This story unfolds much like a 5 course meal, cocktails and small talk, a sampling of this, a taste of that and casual conversation, the main course where true thoughts and personalities come out and of course the fin...more
Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
Ever read a book that made you queasy to your stomach? This was this book for me. Thing is I couldn't stop reading it. I wavered between 3 and 4 stars just for the fact that I don't think it's going to leave my mind for awhile.

I didn't like not one single character in this book, usually that makes you put a book down doesn't it? Most of the story takes place just over dinner at a resturant. My little foodie heart couldn't miss a story involving that now could I? I think no more of the plot shou...more
Kelsey Demers
Here is an example of the avenue more authors need to explore in contemporary literature. Stop imitating, stop trying to write for the best seller list, for goodness sake please stop writing about lust driven beings, don't worry about whether your characters are likable, but rather create a real, believable and above all interesting story that gets people talking. This is what Herman Koch has attempted with his novel The Dinner and it is why I applaud him.

If you want a book with enjoyable charac...more
Susan
This wonderful novel begins deceptively simply, with two couples meeting for dinner at a pretentious, expensive restaurant. The venue has been chosen by the narrator's brother; Serge Lohman. Serge is a politician, a celebrity, able to conjour up a reservation at a restaurant where most people book months ahead. His wife, Babette, is beautiful and the successful couple have three children, including a son the same age as the narrator's only child and an adopted child. The narrator, Paul and his w...more
Michelle
I am woefully unprepared to properly review this book. I received it yesterday and consumed in great, torn-off hunks in every free moment. Unlike Gone Girl, which is something of a wild, fast ride that takes you exactly nowhere, The Dinner consigns you to its utterly brutal journey, partly due to its authorial elegance and the rising tide of complexities contained within.

It is a book that begs to be re-read at least once, and discussed with others in person. Ideally, with readers who are enthusi...more
Holly
Couldn't put it down. But I feel soiled by it -- not because it's bad or badly written, but because it deftly made me feel complicit in its various evildoings. From what I remember of what I heard on NPR about it, part of the fascination has been people talking about it in terms of "What wouldn't you do to protect your children?" but, without spoiling anything, I think anyone who sympathizes with the "protecting" that goes on in this book is crazy.
Mary
The Dinner, as the title implies, takes place over the course of a single meal at an expensive, unnamed restaurant in Amsterdam. Two couples meet to discuss what is to be done about their children, boys who have been involved in a horrifying and highly publicized crime.

Cleverly plotted; the narrator reveals just enough with each course to build tension and keep you guessing. Ultimately, a disturbing tale about disturbing people, but I couldn't help appreciating the narrator's perspective on fin...more
Zoeytron
The Dinner is structured around the courses of a meal. Said meal is being served at one of those pretentious restaurants where the maitre d has an expression on his face that appears as though he has just gotten a whiff of something that smells bad. The snobbery of the restaurant personnel in this book is written flawlessly. There are parallels with the plating of the food that are right on, all that was missing were those silly smeary squiggles of sauce on the plate that are meant to make the c...more
Edward Lorn
THE DINNER Review I own the trade paperback version of THE DINNER. Paid seventeen bucks and some change for it at my local BAM. I'd heard mixed reviews, but of the bad reviews I read, no one was able to give me a good enough reason not to buy Herman Koch's sixth novel. A friend of mine, Mike Crane (Author of GIGGLES), read THE DINNER and loved it. Mike and I have had differing opinions on several novels in the past, but I usually, at the very least, can finish books he recommends. THE DINNER was...more
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Herman Koch (1953) is known as a television producer and a writer. The book 'Het diner', published in 2009, was his breakthrough in the Netherlands. It was published in 17 countries. It was partly based on a true story involving a homeless woman named, María del Rosario Endrinal Petit, in Barcelona (Spain), in December 2005.

Koch was born in Arnhem, and later moved to Amsterdam. He studied Russian...more
More about Herman Koch...
Summer House with Swimming Pool Geachte heer M. Red ons, Maria Montanelli Odessa Star Denken aan Bruce Kennedy

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“Sometimes things come out of your mouth that you regret later on. Or no, not regret. You say something so razor-sharp that the person you say it to carries it around with them for the rest of their life.” 34 likes
“Happiness needs nothing but itself; it doesn't have to be validated. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in it's own way.” 11 likes
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