Book Review: The Dinner by Herman Koch

I was interested in reading this novel, The Dinner, after reading several reviews that compared it the European version of  Gillian Flynn’s novel, Gone Girl.  An international best-seller written  by Amsterdam writer, Herman Koch, The Dinner is an extremely disturbing dinnerbook– like watching a train wreck as it is happening

The premise of the satirical novel/ psychological thriller starts out simply enough as two brothers and their wives meet for what we think will be a simple dinner out.  The older brother is  Serge Lohman , a well-known Netherlands politician, married to the beautiful Babette.  The younger brother Paul, serves as narrator of the book,  and is an unemployed teacher  for 11 years due to mental issues and is married to Claire, who has health issues of her own.  As they meet at a chic restaurant, normal pleasantries are exchanged and we soon start to see notes of hostility  rise between the two brothers and the the tension builds to include the wives as well.   As the dinner moves from aperitif to main course, we soon realize that a horrific incident has happened involving their respective sons  and  both families need to deal with the problem.  Unfortunately, the families disagree on how to handle the situation.  A good candidate for book groups,  The Dinner is a compelling, uncomfortable read that will leave you with your mouth wide open in disbelief.

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