T. Greenwood's Reviews > The Dinner

The Dinner by Herman Koch
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's review
Feb 17, 2013

really liked it

3 1/2 stars?

I'm beginning to think I am just a sucker for an unreliable narrator. This book, like SCHRODER (Amity Gage) and DEFENDING JACOB (William Landay), unfolds via a first person narrator who first establishes our sympathy and then systematically undoes every bit of this trust.

The premise is clever (though, perhaps, a bit too clever): two couples, both parents of a fifteen year old boy, meet for dinner at an upscale Amsterdam restaurant. The two men are brothers, and one of the brothers (not the narrator), is in the running to become the next Prime Minister. However, they have come together this night to discuss something their two boys have done. I won't spoil this by going into detail, but rather leave the grisly discovery to you.

I loved the way the mystery unfolded, and all the little twists and turns along the way. I do think there were some significant plausibility problems: would someone of Serge Lohman's stature choose such a public venue for this discussion? Would Claire really, really do this? What is this mysterious mental illness that can be detected via amniocentesis? And had no one but Paul really discovered that youtube video??

Regardless, I found it really riveting. It is flawed, but worth the read.

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