The Dinner by Herman Koch
(Hogarth, 2013, 304 pages)
The Dinner was assigned for my book club and I was really impressed at how quickly I found myself sucked into the story. Set in Amsterdam the story focuses on two couples and the conversation they have over a nice dinner. The couples work to keep up appearances and balance small talk but there’s an underlying issue that needs to be addressed… unfortunately no one’s too keen to actually bring it up. The issue pertains to their children and as it slowly comes to light (through the narrator’s reflection) it becomes clear that the issue is a very dark and serious one.
The novel is broken up into sections that coincide with specific courses during dinner, which I liked. It helps you stay in line with the timing of things while you read. Also, the narrator’s personality is gradually revealed over time – the narrator is Paul, one of the men seated at the dinner table. To say that getting a look into his psyche provides an added layer of depth to the story is an understatement.
I really liked this book. It’s darker than I thought it would be and Koch does a good job keeping you from guessing where the story is going until you get to the point where he is ready to reveal it to you.