Monday 14 July 2014

BOOK CLUB REVIEW: The Dinner (Herman Koch)

On a summer’s evening in Holland, two middle class couples meet for dinner at a rather pretentious restaurant.

Over the course of the meal, a dark and troubling secret is revealed about their teenage children.

Billed as a ‘Marmite’ book – you’ll either love it or hate it – the story hinges on our perception of the unreliable narrator, Paul, as we begin to question his motives and morality.

In fact, the dinner went down universally well with book club. The lack of ‘likeable’ characters wasn’t off-putting and we agreed that it was a story that drew the reader in.

A short book, set in one place and time (with the use of flashbacks), it reads like a well-made play, set over three acts.

Paul even likens something in the meal to a gun appearing on stage - If you see a gun in act one, you know someone will get shot in act three.

And the way it aims to ruffle the feathers of middle class morality gives it something of a theatrical quality too.

I can’t guarantee everyone will love it, and the ending may leave a bitter taste, but I think most readers would find The Dinner a satisfying offering.

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