The Dinner by Herman Koch was deemed “A European Gone Girl” by the Wall Street Journal. It was actually a pretty good book. The characters were very (very!) hard to like, but they were interesting and they had me thinking about them when I wasn’t reading the book. The book takes place during a dinner with family. The book goes from the dinner table to memories and then back again. I loved talking about The Dinner with my friend who recommended it to me — we both questioned a medical condition the father had. Was it a real condition? Was it made up just for the book?
If you’re inclined to read about some unlikeable, but interesting characters – The Dinner is a good one.
Goodreads describes the book:
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.
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