Synopses & Reviews
"A European Gone Girl
." —The Wall Street Journal
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 scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. 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.
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.
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“[Koch] has created a clever, dark confection…absorbing and highly readable.” New York Times Book Review
“Tongue-in-cheek page-turner.” The Washington Post
“The best part about The Dinner was this tension taking place above the plates. As the meal wore on, I realized I couldn't get up from the table.” Rosecrans Baldwin, NPR
“Koch’s ability to toy with the reader’s alliances while using one family’s distress to consider greater societal ills gives the novel a vital punch.” Daily Beast
“A high-class meal provides an unlikely window into privilege, violence and madness….Koch’s slow revelation of the central crisis is expertly paced, and he’s opened up a serious question of what parents owe their children, and how much of their character is passed on to them…a chilling vision of the ugliness of keeping up appearances.” Kirkus
“This chilling novel starts out as a witty look at contemporary manners…before turning into a take-no-prisoners psychological thriller….With dark humor, Koch dramatizes the lengths to which people will go to preserve a comfortable way of life…this is a cunningly crafted thriller that will never allow you to look at a serviette in the same way again.” Publishers Weekly
“Every detail…manage[s] to catch our attention when Herman Koch uses them to develop his curious characters and bring us into the dark and thought-provoking plot.” Seattle Post Intelligencer
About the Author
Herman Koch is the author of seven novels and three collections of short stories. The Dinner, his sixth novel, has been published in twenty-five countries, and was the winner of the Publieksprijs Prize in 2009. He currently lives in Amsterdam.