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The Dinner Paperback – October 29, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hogarth; Reprint edition (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385346859
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385346856
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,792 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2013: A good unreliable narrator is one of the most satisfying characters a novelist can dream up--and Herman Koch takes us on a hell of a ride through the mind of Paul Lohman, the deliciously sinister host of The Dinner. Paul's 15-year-old son, Michel, has committed an unspeakable crime; his brother, on the cusp of becoming the Netherlands' next prime minister, has a delicate wife and two teenagers who share Michel’s secret; Paul's wife, Claire, will do anything to protect their boy. As the two couples inch through an excruciating meal at a chic restaurant--their children's whereabouts uncertain--Paul peels back the layers of their situation, weaving to and fro through time and truth. Koch's finely structured story gives away just enough on each page to keep us riveted, feeling like private investigators on the verge of discovery, until the shock of an ending. It's no small feat for the author that the less we trust Paul, the more we want to hear what he has to say. --Mia Lipman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Already a runaway hit throughout Europe, boasting more than a million copies sold, Koch’s sixth novel arrives stateside, giving readers here a chance to mull over some rather meaty moral quandaries. But not so fast. First, Koch has a few false paths to lead us down. The story starts off casually and unassumingly with a dinner between two brothers, one running for prime minister of the Netherlands, along with their wives at one of Amsterdam’s finest establishments. The other brother, as narrator, sharply ridicules every absurd element of the night to great effect. But just as everything settles in, Koch pivots, and these pointed laughs quickly turn to discussion about their teenage boys and something they’ve done. And it’s at this point when readers will feel two distinct ideologies forming and will face the novel’s vital question: which position to side with? Koch’s organic style makes for a continuously engaging read that, if anything, leaves readers wanting more. Another 100 pages or so exploring these issues further would have been more than welcome, but what is here will no doubt stir some heady debates. --Casey Bayer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The character development and plot seemed a bit thin.
Cheryl L. Holland
I can see how other people like this book but for me it was just too much on the dark side and several things about it bothered me.
luv2read
I rather found it boring until the very end and by that point the book had already frustrated me for wasting time reading it.
A. Maurer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

497 of 553 people found the following review helpful By Brian J. Greene VINE VOICE on October 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have both positive and negative things to say about this book.

First, the plot: The story is of two brothers - one an unemployed former high school teacher who suffers from a vague illness that causes him to be sometimes unable to control his violent impulses, the other a boorish but popular politician who might be on his way to becoming the Prime Minister - who have teenage sons who have gotten into some Clockwork Orange-like nastiness. The boys have not yet been caught by the authorities in their criminal deeds, but their parents know what they have been up to, and the two brothers and their respective wives are meeting at a restaurant to discuss the dilemma over dinner.

Now, the positives: the bad deeds the boys engage in are as random and senseless as they are brutal and severe. And the boys themselves are not the kind of kids you'd expect to engage in such activities. I found all of that completely believable and compelling, and it hit me on a personal level because I was once a teenage boy who was basically a "good kid" but who sometimes gave way to impulses a boy of that age can have, and got into some vandalism-involved nastiness that I'm still sorry for to this day. The bad things the boys do are both horrifying and believable and that makes the story gripping. Something else I liked about the book, and that also touches me personally, is the explorations of various aspects of parenting. Through the story, you get glimpses of the complexities involved in a parent's relationship to their child as it is affected by the relationship the kid has with one's spouse, its other parent, and how the relationships between the three are so intertwined. This is handled most effectively in the book.
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165 of 191 people found the following review helpful By Ted on February 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I read a review copy that came stuffed with publicity material, so perhaps my expectations were too high.

The suspense depends on the deliberate withholding of information (a common enough contrivance in this genre), with each chapter carefully delivering a small new dose of revelation. But the game quickly became too mechanical for me, and I found myself skimming impatiently -- so apologies if I missed something.

Here are a few things that ultimately bothered me. (SPOILER ALERT!! SPOILER ALERT!!)

This criticism, I notice, has been voiced already, but it's pretty fundamental: The narrator's brother is supposed to be a famous Dutch politician who's just about to run for -- what is it, president, premier, prime minister... whatever. He's a national celebrity. (In fact, during the dinner a man and his daughter come up to him, complete strangers, and ask to take a photo.) And the purpose of the dinner, we learn, is so that the politician and his wife, and the narrator and HIS wife, can come clean with one another and discuss what to do about the fact that their respective teenage sons are homicidal psychopaths currently wanted for a murder that has shocked all Europe.

Now, you'd think the last place the politician would want this crucial (and shady) meeting to be held would be at a crowded high-priced high-end restaurant with every other patron eyeing the foursome, waiters in attendance, etc. What an unlikely choice! And then, peculiarly, the subject of the sons and their crime doesn't even come up till late in the dinner; before that it's basically small talk.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Rita Sydney VINE VOICE on February 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a novel that, once started, I wanted to keep reading. You just know there's going to be something unsavory beneath the placid surface.

Two brothers and their wives are meeting for dinner at an upscale restaurant. The story is told from the point of view of the brother who, it becomes clear, doesn't like his sibling, a widely recognized politician, a potential future prime minister.

As the dinner progresses the reader discovers that the 15 year old sons of the brothers have been involved in acts of mindless violence which may or may not be traced back to them. The heart of the story eventuates from the reactions of the 4 parents to their children's behavior.

The nature of this kind of story is to watch as "normal" ends up twisted into a grotesque reality. And this author is generally effective as he reveals the narrator's character and motivation. The action is well paced with artfully placed clues. As when he maintains that his family is happy. "You don't have to know everything about each other. Secrets didn't get in the way of happiness."

The story rests on the politician brother's decision to give up his career to help his son confess to and then deal with the consequences of the violent behavior. Unfortunately, the author does not make it seem creditable that such an obviously ambitious politician would so easily renounce his career. Worse, the reader is asked to believe that a physical attack on the politician to show him "that some things simply have to stay in the family" would alter his intention to do the right thing.

(I wonder how the politician brother thereafter lived with his sociopath relatives?!)

There are also unanswered questions that bother me.
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