Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: The Dinner by Herman Koch

Publisher: Random House
Pages: 304
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: February 12, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives -- all over the course of one meal.

It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse -- the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Tautly written, incredibly gripping, and told by an unforgettable narrator, The Dinner promises to be the topic of countless dinner party debates. Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

My Review:

Everyone has been talking about this book lately, from the publishers to book sellers, and now that I have finally finished reading it I completely understand why! There is so much to this book and it's hard to talk about without giving things away so this will be a bit of a short review, because this is a book that you need to go into knowing nothing about the story, and just let it take you away.

This whole book takes place over one night, and a short one at that. It starts out as we follow the narrator getting ready to go to dinner with his wife, his brother and his sister-in-law. We come to the restaurant and things slowly unravel from there. In the beginning, I wasn't really sure what I was feeling with this book because there are a lot of descriptions of the dinner and what the characters are eating. But trust me, you need to stick with the story, there are some huge things that happen along the way. There are so many twists to this book, and the way things come out is just stunning.

There are so many points in the novel when I just found myself shocked at the way these characters were acting. Koch's writing is very descriptive of the events and it's almost like you need to take a step back to really take in everything that happens throughout the book. I found myself furiously flipping the pages, hoping to myself that this is not how these people really were. I enjoyed that even though this takes place over one little dinner, you still get a back story to the characters, I feel like that added a lot to the story.

This is a book about secrets and what they can do to families. This is a book that will be one of the most talked about books all year, it will sit with you after you've read it and you wonder what you would do in a situation like this. I can guarantee you that this is one scary family, but that they are definitely worth getting to know at THE DINNER.

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