The Dinner by Herman KochThe Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner

byHerman Koch

Hardcover | February 12, 2013

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"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 polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse -- the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. 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.
     Tautly written, incredibly gripping, and told by an unforgettable narrator, The Dinner promises to be the topic of countless dinner party debates. 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.
HERMAN KOCH is the author of seven novels and three collections of short stories. The Dinner, his sixth novel, has been published in 25 countries, and was the winner of the Publieksprijs Prize in 2009. He currently lives in Amsterdam.
Title:The DinnerFormat:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 8.54 × 5.9 × 1.05 inPublished:February 12, 2013Publisher:Crown/ArchetypeLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0770437850

ISBN - 13:9780770437855


Rated 2 out of 5 by from Boring read #plumreview I did not enjoy this book at all. Could not get into at all and just kind of read it to finish it.
Date published: 2018-01-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from An interesting and fun read Thought this book was pretty good. I enjoyed unravelling all the secrets.
Date published: 2018-01-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not Your Typical Family Dinner I've read this book over a few times and each time I find something different and new to like about it. Set around a 4-5 course dinner, the story revolves around family tensions and mistakes made. Overall, this book was engaging and at times terrifying to read.
Date published: 2017-12-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Unsettling As the conversation over dinner unfolds, interspersed with the narrator's recollections of prior events, you realize that this meal is revealing something quite ugly and unsettling.
Date published: 2017-09-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not expecting this one I was intrigued reading the description of this so I thought I'd give it a try. It initially peaked my interest but this is for a specific audience, definitely not for everyone!
Date published: 2017-08-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not for Everyone It took me awhile to get into the style of writing - the style of humour is good, but was oddly matched with the content. Once I got into the book's unique style, I was able to enjoy it, though I always thought I was missing 'something'... like the writer neglected to include something rather than it feeling like a mystery. Some people will really enjoy this book, but I'd recommend reading a chapter or two before buying/committing.
Date published: 2017-08-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Varied Interest I thought this book would be a good read and wanted to enjoy it but it seemed somewhat dull in many of the chapters. Certainly an interesting storyline but could have been thought through a little more to keep the reader interested.
Date published: 2017-08-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting concept I wanted to read this because I knew the movie was coming out and always like to read the book before watching the movie. I wasn't dazzled by it, although it has a really neat concept. The plot moved slowly and I was disappointed in the ending, as it seemed very implausible.
Date published: 2017-06-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from An Okay Book The story was a bit slow, was hard to keep interested.
Date published: 2017-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it Unique in setting and plot. Well worth a read.
Date published: 2017-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Weird This book is for a certain type of person. I happen to be that type of person. It is weird and somewhat slow in a way, but disturbingly interesting.
Date published: 2017-05-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just Okay A bit tough to get through. Good premise but it didn't keep my focus.
Date published: 2017-04-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good, but a little slow It was an interesting, entertaining book. It translated very well from its original text. I am looking forward to seeing it in a movie version.
Date published: 2017-04-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just okay A '3' might even be generous rating. Truthfully, not enough happened in the book for it to be engrossing. Although it had potential to be a good story, not enough of the dialogue was centred on the actual crime - wayyy too much on the dinner itself and the relationship between the adult brothers. I would have liked it to be more suspenseful and the ending was truly a bore.
Date published: 2017-04-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing!!! It was crazy and gross and all around wrong yet so awesome!!
Date published: 2017-04-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Why are they making a movie? I read this book when it first came out and now I see a movie is coming out soon. Given the very mixed reviews, I don't get it. I did not like the book. There was no way I could empathise with any of the characters. I kept waiting for something to happen, but the story just dragged on. Not a satisfactory ending either. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Unsure I don't know how to describe this book? I sort of enjoyed it, and sort of didn't. I just had so many questions at the end... it was good, but weird.
Date published: 2017-03-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh A '3' might even be generous rating. Truthfully, not enough happened in the book for it to be engrossing. Although it had potential to be a good story, not enough of the dialogue was centred on the actual crime - wayyy too much on the dinner itself and the relationship between the adult brothers. I would have liked it to be more suspenseful and the ending was truly a bore
Date published: 2017-02-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Enjoyable This book will keep you engaged and wondering what happens next.
Date published: 2017-02-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting #plumreview I wasn't sure where this book was heading. It seemed to drag in some spots but was interesting enough to keep going.
Date published: 2017-01-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Loved and hated it This book is troubling and leaves you with so many questions unanswered at the end... I don't know if I would recommend it or not, because I'm still not sure if I actually enjoyed this book. It was plain weird.
Date published: 2017-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from super dark i read this book in one evening, a page turner! I highly suggest reading
Date published: 2017-01-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting This book kept my attention. It was dark, full of family secrets and was an interesting read.
Date published: 2017-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderfully dark! I loved this book! It is a dark story full of characters you won't like. I was warned about this before I read the book. I have never read a book like this before and I really enjoyed that. It is a mystery with disturbing details, if you can stomach it, it's worth the read.
Date published: 2017-01-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wicked View from the top Disliked it for its contents, however the sheer egotism rings true througout this novel. Could barely stomach the dehumanization of minorities.
Date published: 2017-01-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not bad! Well that was a quick read! I find myself always so confused when I finish thrillers. I never know how to feel about them. There's always parts I like and parts I dislike. I've actually yet to find one that I would give 5 stars to. What I really liked about The Dinner was the authors descriptions about food. That was my favourite part. I liked the way the book was split up into sections and the metaphor between each section and what was happening during the story. It was very well put together. Loved the authors writing! It was so fluid which made for an ease of reading. What I disliked was the characters. They were so awful. I also disliked the story itself because I'm still in the dark about what exactly was "the illness". No spoilers but that's all I'm going to say!
Date published: 2017-01-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What a surprise Really interesting book. Starting from an innocent, what seems to be, normal evening supper between two couple. Turn into an intriguing, surprising nightmare. What we are capable to do for the ones we love.
Date published: 2016-11-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mixed Feelings This book was a odd one for me. The tory felt contrived and stilted. I didn't like any of the characters I think because 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?). While this book had it's faults, I must say there were quite a few times it peaked an interest in me to keep reading; which is why I feel comfortable giving this 3 stars compared to one.
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from This didn't all add up There are so many loose ends and things just don't line up. I kept reading in hopes it would even out and it never did. Waste of time
Date published: 2016-11-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from good dark novel This is a great book about the dark side of family. I really liked it. I guess it's a psychological thriller because it's all about the psyche and the family dynamics. Gives me the shivers thinking about it and I read it a few years ago.
Date published: 2016-05-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Terrible Seems as though written by a petulant child. No substance. Just the boring inner workings of one character's mind.
Date published: 2015-09-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from show start Although it was a slow start it was very good by the end. It really questions the boundaries of morality!
Date published: 2015-07-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Dinner Two brothers, their wives and their two absent - yet very present - 15 year olds sit down to dinner at a very fancy restaurant to talk about what to do about a very disturbing secret. This book is fast paced and intriguing - a good read.
Date published: 2015-04-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Yawn. Pretty boring. Theres a sentence in the book that talks about if youre reading a book and you dont like it, but you finish it anyways cause you have already gone that far. That is how this book made me feel. Not for me.
Date published: 2015-04-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The dinner Loved the concept of being in the restaurant.'s something we do all the time up with people and talk .... fabulous the way it is revealed to us in bits and pieces ,,, found my self changing my opinion of the characters multiple times.. did not see the ending coming ,, wow quite disturbing ,, gives you lots to think about ,, I will recommend this book
Date published: 2015-04-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Recommended! This is a book that I’ve been wanting to read for ages. I’ve borrowed it from the library and to return it unread two or three times, and when I had the chance to borrow a copy recently, I knew the time had come. I was going to read this book at last! So I knew the very basics of the plot before I started reading, and I really thought I knew how this story was going to play out, but I was so wrong! I read so many books and predict so many endings that I just love when I have no clue what is going to happen. This book really played with my expectations and while the characters went from irritating to monstrous pretty quickly – they were all so awful and unlikeable! – I do love when a book genuinely surprises me the way The Dinner did. Koch takes a simple premise and takes the story from what could be an ordinary, boring dinner and turns it (and my expectations) on its head. I read the majority of the book in a single sitting and finished it right before my usual bedtime. I was so angry and frustrated with these characters, though, that I had to stay up a little later than usual. There was no way I was going to fall asleep right after finishing this book! Definitely recommended!
Date published: 2015-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! Exciting and quick read. Read it before film is out. Bought two copies as gifts for the readers in my life. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2015-01-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Maybe you need to be Dutch? Was mostly irritated by all characters and the time frame shifting. Could not be more bored with the whole restaurant descriptions... Endlessly...
Date published: 2014-10-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Arg! No comparison to Gone Girl!
Date published: 2014-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Dinner An appetizing read. A twisting and disturbing plot that keeps the readers attention throughout the meal. Well written.
Date published: 2014-07-11
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 A miss for me This book seemed popular and had mixed reviews so I gave it a shot. If I wasn't stuck on a plane, Im not sure I would have finished it. Like most reviews state, the characters are very unlike able. Deplorable even. But I don't have to like the characters to like the book. Case in point, Gone Girl. I didn't like the writing style at all. It skipped all over and in parts, it took a few paragraphs to realize he was reflecting to years ago. The authors refusal to disclose important facts that tie to large parts of the story line, bugged me. What WAS his disorder? What WAS his wife diagnosed with? He claimed these facts added no relevance to the story, but I disagree. Perhaps the reader knowing his disorder would have created empathy for the narrator, who ultimately was a pretty big a$$hole protecting his son, who is a bigger a$$hole. I hoped I would look forward to the authors newest book after reading The Dinner, but, nah, pass thanks.
Date published: 2014-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Page turner Love this author and how he unveils his story.
Date published: 2014-07-03
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 4 out of 5 by from Great book Great book for a book club. It generated a great discussion.
Date published: 2014-04-08
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 5 out of 5 by from Great book Intriguing read. Flawed, believable characters even though shallow and self-centered. Narrator's perspective is an excellent voice that carries us throughout our dinner to the disturbing end. Definitely recommend!
Date published: 2014-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book Dark as it may turn, the opening chapter 'appetizer' is hilarious...a satirical jab at foodie culture. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book and had me laughing aloud. It's wonderful to be drawn into such a dark and disturbing story with extreme laughter. The rest of the book is deeply shocking but based on a true story. It illuminates the depths to which parents will sink to protect a child, albeit one who is old enough to know right from wrong.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Great book Terrible! Don't waste your money! So boring and the story had so many holes in it!
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book This was a great read, something difference from the norm and may be viewed as challenging to societies values.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book an entertaining read into the mind of some dark and interesting characters.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great book The plot was good and characters well developed. I thought the ending was going to be more thrilling or exciting but I was left unfulfilled.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Great book what some parents will do for their kids and how oblivious some parents are
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book One dinner you'll never want to end. Almost the entire book takes place over a dinner at a posh restaurant. Our unreliable narrator is one of four guests at this dinner. An event that happened weeks before begins to bubble to the surface and we, as readers, quickly become voyeurs to a family crisis. Herman Koch is a master storyteller, making you feeling like one of the guests sitting at the table and guilty by association to the characters.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book Great book, two different sides of one story and really makes you think of how one event can be different for two sides of a family
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Great book I did not enjoy this book. It was not gripping and suspenseful. If you like books and movies that are fraught with character development and not a lot else, this book might be the one for you.
Date published: 2014-01-24
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 (
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
Date published: 2013-03-12
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

Bookclub Guide

An acclaimed international bestseller, The Dinner is the provocative, darkly suspenseful tale of a seemingly ordinary meal at a posh Amsterdam restaurant, where two couples must confront a dangerous secret. In a story line that will have all parents wondering how well they really know their children—and how far parents should go to protect their family—master of suspense Herman Koch introduces us to brothers Paul and Serge Lohman and the frightful truths they share.Each with a fifteen-year-old son, the Lohmans haven’t always approved of each other’s parenting styles. Now their boys have triggered a police investigation that threatens everything their families cherish. As Paul narrates the night in gripping, finely honed scenes, we are served a glimpse of the dark side of genteel society and the startling ease with which ordinary people can do extraordinarily horrific things.This guide is designed to enrich your discussion of The Dinner. We hope that the following questions will make your reading group’s experience delectable.Guide written by Amy ClementsUS

Editorial Reviews

“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“Poised to shake up American publishing…Koch tells a story that could very well take away your appetite.” —USA“[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 “A tart main course that explores how quickly the facade of civility can crumble. It's hard to digest at times, but with a thought-provoking taste that lingers.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer “The novel has been called the Gone Girl of the Continent, and not without cause: Like Gillian Flynn’s bestseller, it’s a tale told by an unreliable narrator, full of twists and skillfully executed revelations, ultimately registering as a black parable about the deceptively civilized surface of cosmopolitan, middle-class lives…What Koch achieves with his prose—plain but undergirded by breathtaking angles, like a beautiful face scrubbed free of makeup — is a brilliantly engineered and (for the thoughtful reader) chastening mindfuck. The novel is designed to make you think twice, then thrice, not only about what goes on within its pages, but also the next time indignation rises up, pure and fiery, in your own heart.” — “Briskly paced and full of ingenious twists—a compulsive read…for those who can tolerate the unsavory company, The Dinner is a treat they’ll gulp down in one sitting.” —Dallas Morning News“The Dinner begins with drinks and dark satire, and goes stealthily and hauntingly from there. It's chilling, nasty, smart, shocking and unputdownable. Read the novel in one big gulp, and then make plans with friends—you’ll be desperate to debate this book over cocktails, appetizers, entrees, dessert…and then you still won't be done talking about it.” – Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl“Funny, provocative and exceedingly dark, this is a brilliantly addictive novel that wraps its hands around your throat on page one and doesn’t let go.” – SJ Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep  “Herman Koch has written a sneakily disturbing novel.  He lures us into his story with his unfailingly reasonable tone (just acidic enough to be entertaining), and before we know it we've found ourselves in places we never would've consented to go.  The Dinner is a smart, amiably misanthropic book, and it's tremendous fun to read.” – Scott Smith, author of The Ruins “The Dinner is a riveting, compelling and a deliciously uncomfortable read. Like all great satire it is both lacerating and so very funny... Intelligent and complex, this novel is both a punch to the guts and also a tonic. It clears the air. A wonderful book.” – Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap“What a tremendous book. I loved every single gripping and strange thing about it.” – MJ Hyland, author of Carry Me Down“By the end of The Dinner you'll have to rethink everything, including who you are and what you believe. This is a book you won't forget.” – David Vann, author of Dirt“Mesmerizing and disturbing… fast-paced and addictive…The Dinner, already a bestseller in Europe, is sure to find an enthusiastic American readership as well.” – Book Page“This chilling novel starts out as a witty look at contemporary manners…before turning into a take-no-prisoners psychological thriller…With dark humor, Koch dramatizes the lengths to which people will go to preserve a comfortable way of life…this is a cunningly crafted thriller that will never allow you to look at a serviette in the same way again.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)“A high-class meal provides an unlikely window into privilege, violence and madness…Koch’s slow revelation of the central crisis is expertly paced, and he’s opened up a serious question of what parents owe their children, and how much of their character is passed on to them…a chilling vision of the ugliness of keeping up appearances.” - KirkusInternational Praise for The Dinner“The perfect undemanding, credible, terrifying beach read.” —Financial Times‘‘[The Dinner] proves how powerful fiction can be in illuminating the modern world...The reader does not rise from his table happy and replete so much as stand up suddenly, pale and reeling. Bored with Fifty Shades of Grey and all that brouhaha? Read The Dinner—and taste the shock.” – The Economist“I’m confidently predicting that The Dinner will become this summer’s literary talk of the town—and the Twittersphere—here in the UK, as it already is in Continental Europe, where the novel has sold more than a million copies. Order yours now.” —Evening Standard“Shivers kept shooting up my backbone as I became engrossed in Koch’s darkly disturbing tale of family life. . .As the dinner disintegrates into mayhem, we discover just how far the middle classes will go to protect their monstrous offspring.” —Daily Mail“Rather like The Slap it is set to become a contentious must-read. It may thrill, chill or cheat, but it is undeniably riveting.” —The Independent“This tense and thought-provoking family drama is set to become a major literary talking point as it asks the question: Just how far would you go to protect your family?” —The Bookseller“Hugely accomplished and surprisingly subtle.” —Readers Digest (UK)