The Dinner Herman Koch

August 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Posted in Book Club Ideas, Great for Book Clubs, Middle Weight Fiction, The Dinner | 6 Comments

‘The Dinner’ Herman Koch published by Atlantic books

the-dinner-jacket

The international bestseller ‘The Dinner’ is the talk of the town at the moment. An interesting set up of four characters, two brothers one a retired teacher the other a successful politician and their wives, who have come to dinner to discuss their children and a very serious shared problem. Koch is obviously a talented writer who structures his story on the four courses of dinner served to the couples in this very high-end Amsterdam restaurant. It laughs at contemporary cuisine, capricious parenting and upper middle class moonshine and does this well. ‘ I took the check from the saucer and looked at the total. I wont go into all the things you could do with a sum of money like that…And I won’t mention the figure itself, the kind of sum that would make you bust out laughing. Which is precisely what I did.’

Through the main character, Paul Lohaman’s narration it is clear early on there are serious familial tensions and very fundamentally different core value systems at play with each couple; ‘…it is surprising and amazing to behold; how my brother the oaf: the lumpen boor …the easily bored dullard whose eyes start to wander at every subject that doesn’t have to do with him, how this brother of mine on a podium and in the spotlights and on TV literally begins to shine.’

Paul Lohman’s narration reveals very unsettling ideas and opinions and the reader begins to thoroughly dislike this character which is fine. However at an odd pace and before perhaps the novel has earned the right to the story descends into a very dark and nasty place. With violent acts and thoughts pervading and coming through with disturbingly far right and ultra conservative smugness. This Koch does very well and it is satisfying to intensely dislike characters and every step they take. However it feels like Koch is pointing his finger at something both malignant and tangible in society that he really wants us to take note of, that we can feel is there, but he hasn’t gotten to the core of it not like ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ did or how ‘American Psycho’ did.

Perhaps it is because this book is highly readable that is has become such a bestseller. Perhaps in our busy lives we want a novel that points at our serious sociological problems but is easy and quick to digest. If this is true then ‘The Dinner’ delivers however dealing with such large scale issues too superficially in a novel can leave a reader underwhelmed.

Haiku; A criminal act, does not come out of nowhere, what is to be done?

Advertisements

6 Comments »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. This is an excellently balanced review of a book I have recently read, and more recently discussed with two others. The jury is out with me as to whether to recommend it to anyone, and yet it is so easy to read, difficult to put down, and surface explores a real social issue of our times….parental blindness!
    Well done on this great review
    Poppy

    • Thanks so much Paula that is exactly how I feel about the book too!

  2. I really like this review, I havnt read the book but it makes me very curious. Definitely my next book to buy. I love all your reviews, they are always so well written. Mary

    • Thank you so much Mary I really appreciate it! And I’d love to hear what you think of the book when you read it.

  3. Fantastic, in depth review of a title that seems to have been hyped to the sky. As ever, sarahs-books sees beyond the marketing and tells us what the book is actually like!

  4. Fantastic, in-depth review of a title that seems to have been hyped to the sky. As ever, sarahs-books sees beyond the spin and tells us what the book is actually like!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: