Reading The Dinner by Herman Koch was an interesting literary as well as culinary experience. It was a unique read because the entire story took place over one dinner. The entire book is even split into courses: aperitif, appetizer, main course, dessert and digestif. The story itself is different and unexpected from anything else I have ever read. I felt satiated by the time I finished the book. However, at times, picking it up felt like biting off more than I could chew.
About The Dinner by Herman Koch
“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.Goodreads
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. “
What I Loved
The characters were delicious and their dynamic was full of complex flavors. It explored the different emotions and relationships that people can have. Plus the intricacies of their bond with each other within a family or friend group. The story was as dark as bitter chocolate and as original as an impromptu recipe that can’t be replicated. The Dinner by Herman Koch left a bad taste in my mouth months after I read it – in a good way. I also really enjoyed the original format that this was written in which inspired this hunger-inducing review.
What I Didn’t Love
I really enjoyed this story but it was a little slow at times – like the last bit of ketchup that squeezes out at a grueling pace. There was also a lot of detail that wasn’t necessarily relevant to the story. The focus on the waiters pinkie, for example, was like an over-sprinkled muffin. As I writer myself, I found these little details interesting. But sometimes the flair is unnecessary and even distracting.
Is the Movie Any Good?
Yes, this was made into a movie! That I started watching with my husband, who never read the book. He couldn’t keep his eyes open even after a double shot of caffeine. I found it more interesting because I had read the book, but it just wasn’t the same. Just like eating Jianbing in NYC’s Chinatown isn’t as good as the real thing. I highly recommend skipping the movie and just reading the book. Even if you don’t love it, the story will stick with you.
This juicy book is worth a read and you won’t forget it. Be patience during the slow parts – treat it like you would a heavy meal, chew slowly and swallow carefully. The Dinner by Herman Koch shows that humans are a scary species and the actions that we are capable of can haunt us forever. Herman Koch is a great chef – I mean, author. Grab a copy of the book on Amazon using this link.
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