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The Dinner Paperback – October 29, 2013
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“A European Gone Girl…The Dinner, a sly psychological thriller that hinges on a horrific crime and its consequences for two families, has become one of spring’s most anticipated suspense novels.” —The Wall Street Journal
“[Koch] has created a clever, dark confection… absorbing and highly readable.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Tongue-in-cheek page-turner.” —The Washington Post
“The best part about The Dinner was this tension taking place above the plates. As the meal wore on, I realized I couldn't get up from the table.” —Rosecrans Baldwin, NPR
“Poised to shake up American publishing…Koch tells a story that could very well take away your appetite.” —USA Today.com
“[A] deliciously Mr. Ripley-esque drama.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“You’ll eat it up, with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Koch’s ability to toy with the reader’s alliances while using one family’s distress to consider greater societal ills gives the novel a vital punch.” —Daily Beast
“Every detail…manage[s] to catch our attention when Herman Koch uses them to develop his curious characters and bring us into the dark and thought-provoking plot.” —Seattle Post Intelligencer
“A tart main course that explores how quickly the facade of civility can crumble. It's hard to digest at times, but with a thought-provoking taste that lingers.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The novel has been called the Gone Girl of the Continent, and not without cause: Like Gillian Flynn’s bestseller, it’s a tale told by an unreliable narrator, full of twists and skillfully executed revelations, ultimately registering as a black parable about the deceptively civilized surface of cosmopolitan, middle-class lives…What Koch achieves with his prose—plain but undergirded by breathtaking angles, like a beautiful face scrubbed free of makeup — is a brilliantly engineered and (for the thoughtful reader) chastening mindfuck. The novel is designed to make you think twice, then thrice, not only about what goes on within its pages, but also the next time indignation rises up, pure and fiery, in your own heart.” —Salon.com
“Briskly paced and full of ingenious twists—a compulsive read…for those who can tolerate the unsavory company, The Dinner is a treat they’ll gulp down in one sitting.”
—Dallas Morning News
“The Dinner begins with drinks and dark satire, and goes stealthily and hauntingly from there. It's chilling, nasty, smart, shocking and unputdownable. Read the novel in one big gulp, and then make plans with friends—you’ll be desperate to debate this book over cocktails, appetizers, entrees, dessert…and then you still won't be done talking about it.” —Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
“Funny, provocative and exceedingly dark, this is a brilliantly addictive novel that wraps its hands around your throat on page one and doesn’t let go.” —SJ Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep
“Herman Koch has written a sneakily disturbing novel. He lures us into his story with his unfailingly reasonable tone (just acidic enough to be entertaining), and before we know it we've found ourselves in places we never would've consented to go. The Dinner is a smart, amiably misanthropic book, and it's tremendous fun to read.” —Scott Smith, author of The Ruins
“The Dinner is a riveting, compelling and a deliciously uncomfortable read. Like all great satire it is both lacerating and so very funny... Intelligent and complex, this novel is both a punch to the guts and also a tonic. It clears the air. A wonderful book.”
—Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap
“What a tremendous book. I loved every single gripping and strange thing about it.”
—MJ Hyland, author of Carry Me Down
“By the end of The Dinner you'll have to rethink everything, including who you are and what you believe. This is a book you won't forget.” —David Vann, author of Dirt
“Mesmerizing and disturbing… fast-paced and addictive…The Dinner, already a bestseller in Europe, is sure to find an enthusiastic American readership as well.”
“This chilling novel starts out as a witty look at contemporary manners…before turning into a take-no-prisoners psychological thriller…With dark humor, Koch dramatizes the lengths to which people will go to preserve a comfortable way of life…this is a cunningly crafted thriller that will never allow you to look at a serviette in the same way again.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A high-class meal provides an unlikely window into privilege, violence and madness…Koch’s slow revelation of the central crisis is expertly paced, and he’s opened up a serious question of what parents owe their children, and how much of their character is passed on to them…a chilling vision of the ugliness of keeping up appearances.”
International Praise for The Dinner
“The perfect undemanding, credible, terrifying beach read.” —Financial Times
‘‘[The Dinner] proves how powerful fiction can be in illuminating the modern world...The reader does not rise from his table happy and replete so much as stand up suddenly, pale and reeling. Bored with Fifty Shades of Grey and all that brouhaha? Read The Dinner—and taste the shock.” —The Economist
“I’m confidently predicting that The Dinner will become this summer’s literary talk of the town—and the Twittersphere—here in the UK, as it already is in Continental Europe, where the novel has sold more than a million copies. Order yours now.”
“Shivers kept shooting up my backbone as I became engrossed in Koch’s darkly disturbing tale of family life. . .As the dinner disintegrates into mayhem, we discover just how far the middle classes will go to protect their monstrous offspring.” —Daily Mail
“Rather like The Slap it is set to become a contentious must-read. It may thrill, chill or cheat, but it is undeniably riveting.” —The Independent
“This tense and thought-provoking family drama is set to become a major literary talking point as it asks the question: Just how far would you go to protect your family?” —The Bookseller
“Hugely accomplished and surprisingly subtle.” —Readers Digest (UK)
About the Author
HERMAN KOCH is the author of seven novels and three collections of short stories. The Dinner, his sixth novel, has been published in twenty-five countries, and was the winner of the Publieksprijs Prize in 2009. He currently lives in Amsterdam.
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The good: Well-written (though a few too many meandering asides).
The bad: The characters' moral choices made me absolutely furious, which greatly diminished my enjoyment of the book. I use "moral" in the sense of being decent human beings and citizens, setting a good example for one's children, and taking responsibility for one's actions. Both mothers bent over backwards to make excuses for their children's inexcusable crime, with one woman becoming a criminal herself to help her son. One of the fathers, who clearly crossed the line from sociopath to psychopath many years ago, fails to recognize this in himself and thus doesn't recognize it in the children either, and is also willing to make excuses. The other father is the only one who wanted to try to face up to the seriousness of the situation, by resigning from a high-profile political race. However, his motivation was unclear to me; did he reason that the truth would come out eventually and then he would have looked much worse, or was he actually trying to take some responsibility? Would the press conference have been only for his resignation, or was he going to also expose what the kids did?
The one interesting "twist" was that the fathers turned out to be the opposite of how they were initially set up. The repugnant political boor ended up wanting to take some sort of action to redress the situation, while his more civilized brother was actually a psychopath whose "apple" didn't fall far from the tree.
Then about halfway through the book just took a weird turn. Actually, several weird turns.
Several people told me that this book is either a "love" or a "hate". For me it was kind of both at various times so that makes it difficult to rate. In ways it is a 5 star book - the author has the courage to be really "raw" and let us see how ugly people can be. He writes so well, with such full (and at times vulgar) descriptions. But then the author keeps saying things like "I'm not going to talk about that, it is nobody's business". He uses this line several times and that is just irritating as hell. It's like you invited me into your home and then only let me stand in the foyer and watch the party going on in the living room from there. If you don't want me to see everything then don't invite me to begin with.
If I have to use one word to sum up this book it would be "strange". But also riveting. I had no trouble finishing this book in a few days - and in the end, despising all of the characters.
5 stars for making me hate all of your characters. 3 stars for making me hate all of your characters. I settled for 4 stars because the author made me feel.