THE DINNER

5/5 stars

  • Author: Herman Koch, translated by Sam Garrett
  • Published February 12th 2013 by Hogarth (first published January 2009)
  • TWISTER HALL OF FAME MEMBER
“Sometimes things come out of your mouth that you regret later on. Or no, not regret. You say something so razor-sharp that the person you say it to carries it around with them for the rest of their life.”
— Herman Koch (The Dinner)

This is one of my favorite books in the domestic noir genre. It is not a book for everyone. It is biting, raw and the darkest humor you can imagine. Almost the entire story is set at a restaurant table.

There are two unhappy couples having dinner together and acting as if everything is fine. As we go from appetizers to dessert, the reader gets a sense that something is very wrong here. A simmering beneath the surface kind of tension. It continues to build until all the secrets are exposed. I could not put this book down except for minutes at a time and then I was constantly wondering “what in the world is going on here?”

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Each couple has a son. These sons are cousins to each other, because their dads are brothers.  The sons have done something horrible. Really bad. And the parents are here not just to eat dinner at a fancy restaurant, but to work out how this situation their sons are in should be handled. All four members at the table have a different agenda, a different perspective, a different personality flaw.

The narrator, Paul, is sarcastic and funny and relatable. He could be someone you know. But when you find out the true Paul, who he is when no one is watching, you realize you probably don’t know anyone like him and you certainly don’t want to.

To me, this book is a rare find. It is written so well, even though it is translated from Dutch to English. Amazing, my English major heart rejoices! A brilliant and literary, domestic suspense story.

AMAZON link    The Dinner