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The Dinner

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  147,286 ratings  ·  18,288 reviews
On a summer evening in Amsterdam, two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. At first, the conversation is a gentle hum of polite small talk - the banality of work, the latest movies they've seen. 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 fif
Hardcover, US/CAN, 292 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Hogarth (first published 2009)
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Chris Bateman What about border line personality disorder? The intense anger, lack of impulse control, unstable relationships...
The person who initially discovered…more
What about border line personality disorder? The intense anger, lack of impulse control, unstable relationships...
The person who initially discovered the condition was Adolph Stern (German sounding name). There is no genetic testing to determine it and meds do help manage the disorder.
There's a genetic component. It usually starts to emerge in adolescent. It may fit considering his son's behaviour as well.(less)

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Average rating 3.22  · 
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 ·  147,286 ratings  ·  18,288 reviews

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Nov 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
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
Feb 26, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Emily May
Apr 14, 2015 rated it liked it
“That’s the oppressive thing about happiness, the way everything is out on the table like an open book.”

When you look at the "rating details" for every widely-read book on Goodreads, you will almost always see most ratings being 5 or 4 stars. Even when it comes to divisive books like Fifty Shades of Grey, 60% of the ratings are for 4 or 5 stars.

Now look at the ratings for The Dinner. There are an overwhelming number of 3 star ratings (more than any other). And I get why. This is the kind o
Petra is Darla in the book
Say you have a terrorist in the family. You see it on the news and then find irrefutable evidence in your own home. Would you protect the person from the police? Would you get together with your family to discuss the situation and all of you agree that further crimes will need to be committed by the family in order to protect their loved one? Would you encourage these crimes and even commit them yourself? Would you do all this in the certain knowledge that the person will do it again and again a ...more
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
It occurred to me by the end that 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's a feminist novel, or a queer novel, or a Southern novel, or what have you. In 'The Dinner' we have a situation 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 and informi ...more
Jennifer Bock
Sep 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
This is a gourmet treat, with a bite.

I have to confess, I don't have a lot of patience with those who dismiss this book simply because of the unlikeable characters. Of course, it goes without saying that anyone's reason for not liking a book is valid. You're allowed to not like the book for this or any other reason. But if you need likeable characters, and a comeuppance for all bad characters, well, frankly, you are in the WRONG SECTION OF THE LIBRARY.

Ahem. Now that I got that out of the way...
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Dinner, Herman Koch

The story is narrated by Paul Lohman, a former history teacher. He and his wife Claire meet at a fancy restaurant in Amsterdam with his elder brother Serge, a prominent politician and contender for the position of Dutch prime minister, and his wife Babette. The plan is to discuss over dinner how to handle a crime committed by their teenage sons, Michel and Rick, respectively. The violent act of the two boys had been filmed by a security camera and shown on TV, but, so far,
Lala BooksandLala
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
what a vile little book.
Kevin Ansbro
This is a book that polarises opinion.
In some respects it could be viewed as being provocative, voyeuristic and dark; in other ways it could be seen as being unpleasant and incredibly dull.
I, for instance, love the movie Lost in Translation and consider it to be a masterpiece. My wife, on the other hand, finds it ponderous and aimless.
As an inveterate people watcher, I love witnessing families having bust-ups in restaurants and other public places, as long as I'm not anywhere near them.
I also
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
reading is my hustle
Edit :: added spoiler alert per GR member request.

(view spoiler)
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow! What a fun dinner experience that was!

Everything was going so well during drinks and appetizers. Just a nice meal in a super fancy restaurant. Luckily, Serge knew people since he was a politician and all, maybe even the next prime minister! The first third of the book was just that... appetizers, whetting my appetite for the delicious main course. Pages and pages of beautiful descriptions, subtle humor, not so subtle humor, and casual conversation. The whole book could have stayed right the
Lori - I'm back (with a lot to catch up on)
If Alfred Hitchcock and Vladmimir Nabokov collaborated on a novel, this book could be the result.

I love it. It's an ambitious and awesome blend of suspense, social commentary and satire.

Koch is a terrific writer. While he doesn't write with the briliant wordplay of Nabokov (that's not Koch's style) there's a tone and a way with the material that reminds me of Nabokov. And he creates suspense with the skill of Hitchcock, who also had that wink-wink thing going while he was terrifying the audience
Dec 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Paul Bryant
Dec 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: eurolit, novels
Update :

I got the dvd of the movie of this book, and just as I was about to play it I said to myself hold on, I already watched this movie; and then I wasn't sure - had I already seen it or not? What a puzzle! but then myself answered back and said that the only way to find out was to watch it, so I did and I hadn't seen the movie at all.

But the book had instilled such strong scenes and dialogues within the portals of my brain that I thought I had.

I think that deserves another half star. And I
j e w e l s
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A delicious, twistalicious book you will want to devour. A definite worthy contender for my TWISTER HALL OF FAME at

"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."
— Herman Koch (The Dinner)
This is one of my favorite books in the domestic noir genre. It is not a book for everyone. It is biting, raw and the darkest hum
Blake Crouch
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If the word didn't exist prior to this book, we would've had to create "acerbic." The writing is sooooo good. The structure is fascinating. The people are deliciously awful. ...more
Will M.
I can consider this one of the few messed up novels that amazed me by its darkness. Some of the other ones were Gone Girl and Dark Places, so I guess I do have to agree with the blurb from Wall street journal stating that this is a European Gone Girl.

This is one of those circumstances wherein I'm glad I didn't listen to the bad reviews, and the low overall rating of the novel. Opinions vary, so stick with your gut. If the novel seems like something you'd enjoy, then don't hesitate to give it a
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The folks in this book got under my skin from the get go. The pretentiousness was mind boggling. These are people for whom it's important who arrives last for a dinner reservation, for whom appearance is all. They meet at a restaurant that reminds me of The Emperor's New Clothes. Will no one admit to the laughingly almost empty plates of unique ingredients? And it goes downhill from there. These aren't people you're going to like. Those opening chapters give you an inkling of how these folks wil ...more
Debbie "DJ"
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the book that should have said, "If you liked Gone Girl..." And, after reading some reviews, maybe it did, and I just never saw it. For me, this book is a top notch psychological thriller.

Two couples meet at a posh restaurant for dinner, arriving to discuss some type of problem with their children. The two couples are Paul, and his wife Clair, and Serge (Paul's brother), and his wife Babette. Paul is the single narrator of this story and he recounts much of his past as each course of din
Glenn Sumi
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: not-usa-can-uk
There’s a bit too much on the menu in this wickedly fun psychological thriller from bestselling Dutch author Herman Koch.

But he’s such a good writer (which comes through in the smooth translation), and his narrator is so savagely funny, insightful and demented that the entire thing goes down like an excellent meal – with a slightly nasty aftertaste because of the subject matter.

Two middle-aged couples dine out at an expensive Amsterdam restaurant. As they go through each extravagant, rather absu
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this unique adventure into the mind (view spoiler). As the story progresses, his neurosis becomes clearer and clearer. Also, the bizarre stories of all the characters and the lengths they will go to to "protect" their family had me drawn in and shaking my head the whole time.

In the end, who is more unstable, (view spoiler)?
Apr 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Wow, lots to unpack here.

This is a novel that has been sitting on my shelf for several years, and I finally pulled it down in a good-faith effort to read more of the books I already own. I don't remember why I was so interested in this that I bought a copy, so I skimmed some reviews to jog my memory. I saw everything from 1 star to 5 stars from Goodreads friends, with some very heated comments about the characters and the story. It lowered my expectations, and I felt ready to tackle this book.

Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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Two WASPy couples go out to dinner at a ridiculously fancy restaurant, where each meal has its own pedigree. Serge is a politician and Babette is his hot wife. Paul is Serge's brother, and he is married to an intellectual and demure-seeming woman named Claire. Both of them have children, and their children have done something terrible. As they eat their ridiculously pretentious meals and drink their ridiculously pretentious wine, they b
Elyse Walters
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars!

Its intriguing to me why some people hate this book while others love it. (I feel I can understand both points of view --and respect 'both' points of view)....

Yet here are reasons I LOVED this book:

I could hold a full length conversation about ALL of the characters in this story. I could find 'much' to talk about EACH of them!!

This was a page-turner--(disturbing --with twists and turns) --A book which had me thinking from page one --and will keep me thinking long after having read it.
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, netherlands
Was different and interesting and kept me reading. But I probs wouldnt read again.
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Prudent Page Turners: The Dinner, by Herman Koch 1 2 Jul 08, 2022 05:13AM  
Books and Brews -...: The Dinner Discussion Start 12 15 Jan 28, 2022 03:31PM  
The ending of "The Dinner" (contains spoiler) 142 9378 Aug 02, 2021 08:48AM  
Play Book Tag: The Dinner by Herman Koch - 4 stars 4 18 Dec 05, 2020 09:04PM  
Play Book Tag: The Dinner by Herman Koch 3 stars 1 11 Nov 14, 2020 03:21PM  

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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

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