The Dinner by Herman Koch

9781848873827Such a conniving little book. I set out thinking this would be a witty but dark tale of family troubles set during a night in a restaurant and what transpires is all that, but so much more. While this can be seen as a positive, it is also a slight detriment to the novel. It’s like opening a Kinder Egg and finding out it’s a toy that doesn’t need building. It saps some of the fun from the novel. Heading into a book with one vision in mind and then having that morph into something else, in this instance, is a little disappointing.

The story that appears from The Dinner is an interesting one and it is told in a unique way, but with the lack of a formal structured narrative it loses some of its punch. We meet the characters briefly before being thrust into a tale that borders on a thriller. We meet Paul and Serge Lohman and are given a little backstory to their relationship. We find out small details about what makes them tick, but we never really delve deeply into the cast. I suppose that this detachment makes for a detachment from the situations they find themselves in. When we read that these two brothers and their wives are meeting to discuss their children, what transpires is rather surprising.

You can tell I’m beating around the bush, can’t you? I daren’t reveal the twist, nor the ones that spiral off of that. Suffice to say the central premise of the novel is one that crosses many lines and will have you questioning our narrator. Koch has used the unreliable narrator mechanic superbly and by the end of the book you will ponder each nuance that has passed.

It’s not a bad book, it’s very good. But, the stumbling block of the way the story is told hinders what could have been a brilliant book. There are so many flashbacks that it jars the present section of the plot. There are many inner monologues that, while interesting, halt the flow.

Published by Atlantic Books. This book was purchased and read on Kindle.



2 thoughts on “The Dinner by Herman Koch

  1. Marie

    I just can’t make up my mind whether to give this a go or not. I keep reading alternately glowing and lukewarm reviews…I guess that is a sign I should probably just bite the bullet and read it and make up my own mind!


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