The Dinner

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The Dinner

by Herman Koch

Crown Publishing Group | October 29, 2013 | Trade Paperback

The Dinner is rated 2.0417 out of 5 by 24.
"A European Gone Girl." —The Wall Street Journal

An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives—all over the course of one meal.

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 scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. 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.
     Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 320 pages, 7.99 × 5.18 × 0.85 in

Published: October 29, 2013

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385346859

ISBN - 13: 9780385346856

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Dinner is Not for Dessert A lot of hype around this novel, and I think the fact that it was referred to as the European Gone Girl, really drove it's sales, although any of Flynn's 3 books are fabulous and cannot be compared to The Dinner. That being said.... The Dinner was well-written, in my opinion. I feel like you really felt for the main mom and dad and their normal life, with their normal son until the abnormal happens, which has a nice, slow build-up to what actually went down. I enjoyed the very tense dinner between the 2 brothers and their wives, trying to discuss while at the same time not discuss the 'incident'. What I really enjoyed about this novel was the lengths that parents will go to to protect their children and themselves. However, I found there was a little too much detail for certain superfluous moments in the book that made it a bit boring to get through.
Date published: 2014-07-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Awful There were no redeeming qualities to this book, it was sick and had no point. Funny how it actually refers to reading a book to the end even though you don't like it... I wish I'd stopped sooner.
Date published: 2014-06-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Awful I wish I'd read the reviews before I bought this book, it was really awful and completely unbelievable.
Date published: 2014-02-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Wouldn't reccomend it "The Dinner" was on the wishlist of the person I drew for Secret Santa this year. I was intrigued by the hype, and dowloaded the ebook. I hope the recipient isn't as dissapointed as I was. I found the book to be a very slow read, and it didn't draw me in to the characters. Where the writer tried to create suspense by limiting the details, it created frustration as I didn't want to read through 10 pages to get what could have been written in 5. The books content was drawn out and interspersed with a lot of filler, and just wasn't a good match for me. Had I of not read all the hype beforehand, I would have just thought this was a mediocre story, but I had high expectations and was left wanting more.
Date published: 2014-01-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The Dinner Sorry, don't like to be negative, but I didn't like it at all and wished I hadn't wasted the time or $$$ ... just not worth it!
Date published: 2013-12-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from terrible I saw this book in the front of the store and was immediately drawn to it based on the cover. It was a very slow, and dry read. After I was finished, I was not sure what the point of the whole book was. 
Date published: 2013-11-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Dinner So many things to admire about this book: laser-precise character observations, a storyline that somehow manages to be both riveting and banal, and suspense cunningly built through ordinary human interactions. Every line in this book made me think. Every other line made me second-guess something I thought I had all figured out. When I finished this book, I pondered the themes and my reaction to them. The subject matter disturbed me, by times, as it was intended to. Koch pushes us to contemplate cultural norms we love to cling to. He explores sibling relationships, hero worship, mental illness, homelessness, parental decisions, social pretenses, and the sticky issue of who is worthy of living or dying. Herman Koch wraps up mystery novel, social satire, and character study in a simple dinner conversation package. Admirable.
Date published: 2013-10-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Pretty terrible Honestly I can't believe I wasted my money purchasing this book. If you're looking for something to put you to sleep while stealing your money, this is the book for you.
Date published: 2013-09-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Big Disappointment Not at all "European Gone Girl" worthy. Slow draggy text that makes you wonder whether its worth it to continue on. Even worse ending that makes you lose hope that karma really does get those who have it coming. All in all this was a terrible read that I am in awe I even had the strength to finish reading
Date published: 2013-08-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Too Much Hype Paul and his brother Serge are taking their wives out for dinner at an upscale restaurant. Serge has arranged the dinner at a restaurant that is well out of Paul’s budget. That’s always a problem, but there are other reasons the two brothers do not get along. As the dinner progresses Paul cannot help but continually think back to the unusual happenings at home lately. What exactly is going on with his son? As the dessert course approaches we learn that this dinner is not just an ordinary dinner – the two couples are here to discuss their children. I have been procrastinating about writing the review of this book because I have a difficult time writing negative reviews. Particularly when the book is well written. And this book is very well written, in my opinion, it just does not live up to the hype. I never got involved enough to care about the characters, so when the big reveal happened I just shrugged my shoulders. A little slow moving and just not my cup of tea. This is one of those cases where, if I had been reading the book rather than listening to it on audio, I would have closed the covers and added it the “nope, cannot finish this” pile.
Date published: 2013-07-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from not what I expected I'm always disappointed when I read book that is very hyped up. This book is not at all like 'Gone Girl', I don't know where that idea even came from. It was a bit scattered, but it was interesting. There was a lot of useless nonsense that dragged the book out much longer than necessary.
Date published: 2013-07-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Nowhere near the caliber of Gone Girl Having read this reviewed as "the European Gone Girl" I was so excited to get wrapped up in this book. However, it left me constantly waiting to see what was next...and not in the on the edge of your seat way. I was literally waiting for something remotely exciting to happen throughout the whole book. Very bland, didn't really get it? The plot development was slow and at times irrelevant to the deeper character development slowly (and I mean slowly) exposed over the course of the dinner.
Date published: 2013-06-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Beautifully written but a little weird The Dinner is one of those difficult to review books. Mostly because there’s so little I can say about it without giving anything away. On the surface this is the story of two brothers, and their wives getting together to eat dinner. One brother is relatively well known in the community. The other thinks his brother is a buffoon. Recipe for a pleasant family meal right? I have to admit I was a little skeptical when I heard the entire novel takes place over the course of one dinner. But once you meet these characters you’ll want to sit back and watch the drama unfold. They’re all pretty despicable people. It’s like watching reality TV. You don’t actually like the people you’re watching but you want to see them interact with one another. Each character was incredibly well described and you could just imagine all their mannerisms and back handed comments. I need to say it again – these were horrible people! They were so mean! In a way it kind of reminded me of a Martin Amis. Cruel characters, sharp wit, wry observations. Never a dull moment. Of course, there is more to The Dinner than just a group of interesting, cruel characters. There is something deeper and darker going on just below all the surface tension. Herman Koch does a good job, slowly unraveling the mystery strand by strand. I wasn’t too surprised when the big reveal finally came out but I still really enjoyed watching all the characters put everything together. Watching this huge bombshell drop was just as entertaining as a surprise twist would have been. Recommendation: Herman Koch has written a beautifully detailed, delicious mystery that has you questioning the power of family ties and wondering what exactly happened to humanity and compassion. This and other reviews at More Than Just Magic (http://morethanjustmagic.org)
Date published: 2013-06-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Was not was I expected... at all. Did not even finish the book. Too many long and boring moments. I kept falling asleep!
Date published: 2013-06-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from So So All and all it was not a bad read. I thought that is was very slow and quite boring in some spots. The ending of the book was pretty dumb.
Date published: 2013-04-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from So disappointed! I was very much looking forward to this read and initially was enjoying the book very much, but the enjoyment wore off before the halfway point. The story is weak, and by the end I can say I disliked every single character in the book, and would not recommend this one to anyone. Don't waste your time or money!
Date published: 2013-04-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Unfulfilled! When their sons commit a senseless crime, two families decide whether to keep silent or reveal the truth and risk a promising political career. I enjoyed the author’s style of writing but I also found in frustrating. Throughout the story the author chose not to reveal certain details in an effort to create mystery but it gave me the feeling the reader was unworthy of important information. The story is narrated by the unbalanced father of one of the boys and the crime is just a backdrop to explore this troubling character and his influence. Perhaps if this storyline was more thoroughly explored, it may have been more intriguing. As it was, it left me unfulfilled.
Date published: 2013-04-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dinner could not end soon enough The premise of this book was intriguing, but it in no way lived up to its hype. The narrator was frustrating and irritating. The littlest things annoyed him and sent him off on a tangent, which was the author's way of revealing details of the mystery we spend the dinner unravelling. The mystery itself was disturbing, and revealed entirely too slowly and cluttered with too much extraneous information. I literally couldn't wait for this dinner to end. I'm barely glad to have read this one, and more thankful to have simply gotten through it.
Date published: 2013-03-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh This book really wasn't as amazing as Chapters had advertised it to be. It certainly was NOT comparable to Gone Girl. I do feel that the story was interesting, but the narrative was tiring and the main character frustrating. I finished it just for the sake of finishing it.
Date published: 2013-03-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Unforgetable Unravelling of Secrets Excellent story that takes place all during one dinner between two brothers and their wives. As the dinner unfolds, past and present disturbing secrets and events they have been hiding are slowly revealed. The memorable, disturbing ending will be hard to put out of my mind.
Date published: 2013-03-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Shocking family evening Divided into the five parts of a dinner, the novel starts by slowly telling the story of two brothers and their wives having dinner in a hip and chic restaurant in the Netherlands. Based on this premise, the narrative, given here by one of the brothers (Paul), seems quite simple if not common. Until, the dinner reaches its climax and we learn the true reason behind this family reunion: the sons of brothers Paul and Serge have committed what Minny in “The Help” would qualify as a “terrible awful”. As the extent and consequences of this “terrible awful” are revealed, the parents argue on how they should react and how to deal with this matter, even if it means going against all moral principals ... even the law. The book format plays here a good part in my appraisal of it. Paul’s first-person narrative is easily readable and intelligent. Moreover, Paul’s monologue is brutally honest in the description he makes of his son’s and nephew’s terrible act but also of who he is as an individual and how he might inadvertently have influenced this act. Another good point in its favor (and also the main reason why this is not a book you should read lightly) is that the author’s aim here is not the obvious moral and ethic response we would have at first expected. The author is here shocking, if not provoking, in the lack of moral compass his characters depict. The solutions they envision to settle the “terrible awful” here lack even the basic legal ethic. As you go through an array of emotions that span from disbelief and lack of understanding to anger and rage at the injustice that is openly displayed, it becomes impossible to put the book down for good and leave the story unfinished. In fact, you feel quite compelled to return to its pages in order to discover what the final outcome will be or how the whole matter will unravel. Because even though this novel is frightening, shocking, provoking and even disturbing in its depiction of the immorality some people may show towards the legal and ethic system in place, we can’t keep away from asking ourselves just how far we would be willing to go to protect the people that are dearest to us. Whether you will read this book and experience pleasure or disgust is entirely up to you. The only sure thing is that it is bound to leave a lasting feeling on anyone who reads it. For more on this book and others, visit my blog at ladybugandotherbookworms.blogspot.com
Date published: 2013-03-12
Rated out of 5 by from I now understand the hype! Very interesting narrative from the perspective of a very different kind of character. I am not sure how to describe this book other than it was a very hard book to put down.
Date published: 2013-03-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Book Review from The Bibliotaphe Closet: The Dinner by Herman Koch The Dinner by Herman Koch begins deceptively reasonable in its act of “normalcy” by its introduction of one of the book’s characters, Serge Lohman, a cabinet minister running in an election, his wife Babette, and its talk of what many families and couples enjoy — a night out to dinner. The first-person narrative shared by the main character of the book, Paul, is easily readable, intelligent, and brutally honest that readers can enjoy being pulled into the fabric of the story with ease and interest. But as the story continues, the “horrific act” committed by both of the couples’ sons is revealed, and not only triggers a city-wide police investigation, but leaves the readers with the shocking anger of its injustice. While not discounting the severity of the crime itself because juvenile delinquency exists in the everyday of community, the book does delve deeper in revealing an even more shocking immorality — the response and reaction of the boys’ parents. And from there the book spirals into a gripping narrative of subversive violence. While Serge Lohman is accused of a pompous, egocentric attitude; his wife, Babette, portrayed as a weeping socialite; Claire, an intelligent and doting mother; and Paul, a complacent father with deep-rooted insecurity issues — readers will be shocked to learn the true culprits and puppeteers of violence and immorality in the book. I, myself, had to put the book down several times to take in a breath from my anger and disbelief. And yet, I was compelled to return to it in order to complete the book and discover its outcome. The tension in the book coupled with its shock value as well as the fact that it’s so well-written and easily readable makes this novel a tough story to put down. It will certainly make readers question just how far one would and should go in protecting those they love—and how far back the source goes in perpetuating acts of violence, as well as who is truly to blame. The novel is an enjoyable read as it is a frightening, disturbing one; one that readers will abhor in its immoral compass and delight in, in its provocative and succinctly dark grip. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure (and the disgust) of reading the novel, The Dinner, by Herman Koch, it’s one you’ll want to add to—and devour from—your reading menu.
Date published: 2013-03-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not one to read lightly Herman Koch somehow pulled this reluctant reader all the way to the last page of his disturbing novel. Not a book where, if you hate it, you can skip to the last pages and be done with it. Both Koch and his translator are very good at their craft. Two brothers and their wives, influential, wealthy, dine together in order to feel each other out about the horrid situation their sons have created. Their solutions are plausible, hopefully not probable, and very unsettling. I kind of wish I hadn't read it.
Date published: 2013-02-28

– More About This Product –

The Dinner

by Herman Koch

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 320 pages, 7.99 × 5.18 × 0.85 in

Published: October 29, 2013

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385346859

ISBN - 13: 9780385346856

From the Publisher

"A European Gone Girl." —The Wall Street Journal

An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives—all over the course of one meal.

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 scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. 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.
     Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content

About the Author

HERMAN KOCH is the author of seven novels and three collections of short stories. The Dinner, his sixth novel, has been published in twenty-five countries, and was the winner of the Publieksprijs Prize in 2009. He currently lives in Amsterdam.

Editorial Reviews

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2013 An ALA Notable Book of the Year New York Times Bestseller * USA Today Bestseller * Los Angeles Times Bestseller “A European Gone Girl … The Dinner , a sly psychological thriller that hinges on a horrific crime and its consequences for two families, has become one of spring’s most anticipated suspense novels.” — The Wall Street Journal “[Koch] has created a clever, dark confection… absorbing and highly readable.” — New York Times Book Review   “Tongue-in-cheek page-turner.” — The Washington Post   “The best part about The Dinner was this tension taking place above the plates. As the meal wore on, I realized I couldn''t get up from the table.” — Rosecrans Baldwin, NPR “Poised to shake up American publishing…Koch tells a story that could very well take away your appetite.” — USA Today.com “[A] deliciously Mr. Ripley-esque drama.” — O, The Oprah Magazine   “You’ll eat it up, with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” — Entertainment Weekly    “Koch’s ability to toy with the reader’s alliances while using one family’s distress to consider greater societal ills gives the novel a vital punch.” — Daily Beast   “ Every detail…manage[s] to catch ou
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