Thursday, September 5, 2013

Mini-review: The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner 
by Herman Koch
e-book, 306 pages
Random House LLC, 2013
source: borrowed from library

Quick thoughts:
Unreliable narrators and unlikable characters are everywhere lately, and both figure prominently in The Dinner.  The entire novel takes place over the course (pun intended) of a single dinner in a posh Amsterdam restaurant. But make no mistake, although the meal is described in some detail, this is no foodie novel.

As two families dine, they struggle to make the toughest decision of their lives. It's dark, it's disturbing, and you'll turn pages quickly in order to ingest this tortuous meal. I finished the book in just a few days, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

To learn more, check out this summary from goodreads.

My rating:



30 comments:

  1. I've read mixed reviews of this book but still want to read it. There are a lot of unreliable narrators these days but I'm still drawn to them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy - Unreliable narrators are usually a draw for me, too.

      Delete
  2. I loved this book, many people hated it. I think it's one that definitely depends on the reader, as it's a slow burn, has quite a bit of social commentary and can be pretty disturbing. Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shannon - After reading this, I can definitely understand the wide range of opinion! I couldn't put it down.

      Delete
  3. I'm totally fascinated by the premise of this one. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andi - Wasn't sure whether it would be a hit or miss for me, but I really liked it.

      Delete
  4. This one was amazing on audio, too. So disturbing, but extremely well-written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carrie - Oh, I'll bet this was fabulous on audio! I'm going to head over to audible and listen to a clip.

      Delete
  5. Sounds intense. I love the idea of a novel that's practically in real time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Col - Yes, it was definitely intense....darkly intense. I couldn't stop reading!

      Delete
  6. Loved it (but I feel awful saying that if you know what I mean).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diane - Haha, I do! But I don't think any less of you ;-)

      Delete
  7. I'm intrigued by the premise, though unreliable narrators can be frustrating!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diana - Unreliable narrators can definitely be frustrating, but part of the fun for me is trying to figure out exactly what parts of their stories are true.

      Delete
  8. Despite not liking any of the characters or their behavior, I enjoyed this novel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nise' - It takes a really good writer to get readers to dislike characters and their behavior, yet still like the book!

      Delete
  9. I'm still not sure I want to read this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stacy - It's compelling, but in a very dark way... definitely not for everyone!

      Delete
  10. I enjoyed your review. The Dinner sounds interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pat - Some reviewers refer to it as a 'European Gone Girl'. Not sure if it's accurate... I've avoided that one!

      Delete
  11. That sounds absolutely fascinating. And I love this "mini" review which gives me exactly what I want to know in just a few short paragraphs. My favorite kind of review, because sometimes I spend so long reading a review I could have read a chapter of my book instead. Not here, of course! I mean those NYTimes four page long reviews. Off to mark this book on hold at my library. xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bellezza - I'm finding myself drawn to shorter reviews, too. They're also much easier to write and leave me more time for reading!

      Delete
  12. This one has been waiting so patiently for me to pick it up. I had no idea it all took place during one dinner. My kind of book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ti - Having the main action of the novel take place over one dinner was very appealing to me, too. I really like the way it all unfolded.

      Delete
  13. This is the second time I've read the phrase 'unreliable narrators.' Could you explain what exactly that means, and what books feature them? Would Roger Ackroyd be considered one? Or is it a new thing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nan - To me, an unreliable narrator is one that cannot necessarily be believed - often due to mental illness, delusions, a pathologic liar, memory problems, etc. I recently read The Other Typist and would put that book in this category. The Good House by Ann Leary (an audio favorite this year) features an alcoholic first person narrator, so what she said could be suspect. Other title that pop into my head - We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Atonement, When We Were Orphans, The Turn of the Screw... I'm blanking on the most well-known though. I haven't read Roger Ackroyd, so can't say for certain, but it's not a new thing.

      Delete
    2. Thank you! I'm not sure I would like that kind of narrator, though I must have read some over the years. I couldn't read RA because I knew the 'secret' beforehand. Kind of like the movie, The Crying Game. Remember when it was a huge deal to keep the twist a secret?

      Delete
    3. Nan - That type of narrator can be very frustrating, so it helps if you know what you're up against before getting started. I certainly remember the importance of those secret twists...sadly, not as big a thing these days.

      Delete
  14. I've read so many differing opinions about this one but always respect your opinion. Think I'll have to pick this one up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lisa - I read this on the train to NYC and the hours passed very quickly!

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails