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Book review “The Dinner” by Herman Koch

The Dinner25 October 2013

reviewed by Anne van Oorschot

TIC members met for dinner, actually, not to eat dinner, but to talk about it, and not just any dinner, but The Dinner, the best-selling book by Dutch author Herman Koch. Maybe you recognize the cover of the book, which seemed to be in many shop windows and store folders when it first came out in 2009. The book discussion group wanted to find out what we thought of this Dutch bestseller.

We had all finished the book – which was a good thing, since it has a very surprising ending – and found there was plenty to discuss! Two couples go out to dinner to discuss a terrible late night crime that has been captured on video. They recognize their sons as the perpetrators but each has a different idea of what to do about it. The story is narrated by one of the fathers and through his descriptions, we form opinions about him as well as the other 3 members of the dinner party. While the entire book takes place in one evening, there are numerous narrations that take the reader back to other times and events, which keeps things moving. The 4 main characters, as well as the sons, are really described well and you get a real sense of who they are…only to have your expectations regarding their actions turned upside down by the ending.

A good read, but one which left all of us with the question, What would you do?

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