Title: The Dinner
Author: Herman Koch
Release Date: 2013
Voice Actor: Clive Mantle
Awards: Publieksprijs voor het Nederlandse Boek (2009)
Finished Reading: January 23, 2015
Fulfills: A Book Set in a Different Country, A Book by an Author I’ve Never Read Before, A Book That Was Originally Written in a Different Language
About: “A summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse, but behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said. Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son and the two boys have committed a single horrific act, which has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, and as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.”
Why did I pick up this book? I was at a job interview, true story, for a library assistant position and they asked if I had read this book. When I said that I had not, they both were beside themselves and proceeded to tell me that I absolutely needed to read it. Rather, that I should listen to it because the audio is amazing. So that’s what I did. Months later (this month) I grabbed it from the library and the rest is history.
This book. Ok. Wow. So we are getting all of this told to us in first person, following around Paul. I wasn’t really taken with Paul. I felt the same way about him in the same way I felt about Eva at the beginning of We Need To Talk About Kevin. Pedantic. Overbearing. Privileged. Annoying. We soon meet his wife, Clair. As well as his brother, a well to-do up-in-coming politician, Serge, and Serge’s wife, Babette. (No, it’s not pronounced Babe-ette, but BOBette.) From Paul’s perspective we really learn to dislike Serge right away, and we’re given an opening for attraction toward Babette.
I hated everyone. Ever single character. I hated the parents. I hated the kids. I hated the waiter and the restaurant owner. Serge was actually, as it turned out, had just a regular hate from me. Everyone else was a double-hate. I double-hated everyone (sans Serge).
The basic premise is that these two adult, parent, couples are out to dinner discussing what their sons have gotten themselves into. That’s the whole plot in one sentence. The whole book is one whole dinner. Now, Paul interrupts several times to reveal scenes that have already happened. He talks about his old job. He talks about being a parent early in his son’s life. The whole shebang. I was worried about the pace of this book.
The book started out pretty slow for me. I knew something big was coming and I really just wanted it to happen already! Paul interrupting the dinner for these flashback stories almost annoyed me. Almost. The more I paid attention to these mini vignettes, the better picture I’m given of each of these characters. BUT. When I found things out (you’re welcome for the vagueness all you readers who have yet to pick this up), it really starts going. Snowballing. Getting worse and worse and worse. It left me with goosebumps. I needed a few days to gather my thoughts instead of immediately running for my laptop to write a review.
My rating and why: I gave this book 4 stars! I read it and really enjoyed it. Enjoyed is the wrong word. I hated everyone. But, Koch really did something right if I’m yelling at the characters in my car. This book will definitely stay with me for awhile.
Your turn! Have you read this book? Have you read a book that was written in a language other than your native tongue? How many check points have you been able to cross off your 2015 reading challenge? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow.
Until next time my fellow bibliophile beasties!