The Dinner – Herman Koch

One of the books I chose with my ‘footy team’ Book Voucher was ‘The Dinner’ by Herman Koch. I hadn’t heard anything about this book until I flicked through the new in-store flyer and it was featured in there. It sounded pretty interesting so into my ever-ready book basket it went. I’m so glad it did as it was the first book I read when I got home and thought it was great.

I really enjoyed Christos Tsiolkas’s ‘The Slap’ and this book reminded me of it. Like with ‘The Slap,’ there is one central incident in the book and we are privy to private conversations that other characters aren’t and we piece together their personalities and beliefs based on these conversations.

Two brothers and their wives meet for dinner at a restaurant. Paul, the main protagonist knows it won’t be an enjoyable evening as he has to spend time with his brother, the politician and possible future Prime Minister.  Conversation is fraught and the atmosphere surrounding the dinner table is tense.  As the dinner progresses, Paul becomes more lost in his own thoughts and through these thoughts, we learn about the characters of Paul and Serge’s sons and and the terrible thing they have done, which forms the main theme of the book.

And that’s basically the book in a nutshell – centered around a dinner conversation and the far reaching effects of a premeditated, yet impulsive action.  It is an odd book in some ways but very clever and thought-provoking, and I’m so glad that I stumbled across it.  I can see it becoming very popular and much talked-about as it is as controversial as ‘The Slap.’


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