Compelling and provocative, Koch's novel invites us to be voyeurs of one family's unraveling. As with any moment of truth, it is not the dinner itself that is the story, but everything that has come before: the horrific act of violence committed by two boys whose fathers are also brothers, the signs and symptoms of what could cause such behavior, and the revelation that the differences between the families may be far fewer than it first seems. Privilege, politics, and even race, get thrown into this recipe for disaster while the story deepens and darkens with every new stage of the meal, and unflinchingly skewers a particular social strata that will do anything—anything—to protect its future. --Stacie M. Williams
Indie Next ListFebruary 2013
In this brilliant novel, two brothers and their wives meet for dinner in an upscale restaurant. Structured around the courses of the meal and narrated by Paul, what starts out in the first section -- Aperitif -- as a hilarious riff on the pretentious meal that he is reluctantly sharing with his brother, Serge, takes on an increasingly ominous tone as the reason for the meeting gradually unfolds. Psychologically taut and beautifully constructed, this tale hooks the reader from the first page to the hair-raising conclusion. A literary page-turner that explores the lengths to which families will go to protect their own. -- Sheila Daley, Barrett Bookstore, Darien, CT
"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 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.
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 25 countries, and was the winner of the Publieksprijs Prize in 2009. He currently lives in Amsterdam.
Praise for The Dinner…
“A European Gone Girl…The Dinner, a sly psychological thriller that hinges on a horrific crime and its consequences for two families, has become one of spring’s most anticipated suspense novels.” – The Wall Street Journal
“Poised to shake up American publishing…Koch tells a story that could very well take away your appetite.” —USA Today.com
“[A] deliciously Mr. Ripley-esque drama.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“You’ll eat it up, with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” —Entertainment Weekly
“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 tart main course that explores how quickly the facade of civility can crumble. It's hard to digest at times, but with a thought-provoking taste that lingers.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The novel has been called the Gone Girl of the Continent, and not without cause: Like Gillian Flynn’s bestseller, it’s a tale told by an unreliable narrator, full of twists and skillfully executed revelations, ultimately registering as a black parable about the deceptively civilized surface of cosmopolitan, middle-class lives…What Koch achieves with his prose—plain but undergirded by breathtaking angles, like a beautiful face scrubbed free of makeup — is a brilliantly engineered and (for the thoughtful reader) chastening mindfuck. The novel is designed to make you think twice, then thrice, not only about what goes on within its pages, but also the next time indignation rises up, pure and fiery, in your own heart.” —Salon.com
“Briskly paced and full of ingenious twists—a compulsive read…for those who can tolerate the unsavory company, The Dinner is a treat they’ll gulp down in one sitting.” —Dallas Morning News
“The Dinner begins with drinks and dark satire, and goes stealthily and hauntingly from there. It's chilling, nasty, smart, shocking and unputdownable. Read the novel in one big gulp, and then make plans with friends—you’ll be desperate to debate this book over cocktails, appetizers, entrees, dessert…and then you still won't be done talking about it.” – Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
“Funny, provocative and exceedingly dark, this is a brilliantly addictive novel that wraps its hands around your throat on page one and doesn’t let go.” – SJ Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep
“Herman Koch has written a sneakily disturbing novel. He lures us into his story with his unfailingly reasonable tone (just acidic enough to be entertaining), and before we know it we've found ourselves in places we never would've consented to go. The Dinner is a smart, amiably misanthropic book, and it's tremendous fun to read.” – Scott Smith, author of The Ruins
“The Dinner is a riveting, compelling and a deliciously uncomfortable read. Like all great satire it is both lacerating and so very funny... Intelligent and complex, this novel is both a punch to the guts and also a tonic. It clears the air. A wonderful book.” – Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap
“What a tremendous book. I loved every single gripping and strange thing about it.” – MJ Hyland, author of Carry Me Down
“By the end of The Dinner you'll have to rethink everything, including who you are and what you believe. This is a book you won't forget.” – David Vann, author of Dirt
“Mesmerizing and disturbing… fast-paced and addictive…The Dinner, already a bestseller in Europe, is sure to find an enthusiastic American readership as well.” – Book Page
“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 (starred review)
“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
International Praise for The Dinner
“The perfect undemanding, credible, terrifying beach read.” —Financial Times
‘‘[The Dinner] proves how powerful fiction can be in illuminating the modern world...The reader does not rise from his table happy and replete so much as stand up suddenly, pale and reeling. Bored with Fifty Shades of Grey and all that brouhaha? Read The Dinner—and taste the shock.” – The Economist
“I’m confidently predicting that The Dinner will become this summer’s literary talk of the town—and the Twittersphere—here in the UK, as it already is in Continental Europe, where the novel has sold more than a million copies. Order yours now.” —Evening Standard
“Shivers kept shooting up my backbone as I became engrossed in Koch’s darkly disturbing tale of family life. . .As the dinner disintegrates into mayhem, we discover just how far the middle classes will go to protect their monstrous offspring.” —Daily Mail
“Rather like The Slap it is set to become a contentious must-read. It may thrill, chill or cheat, but it is undeniably riveting.” —The Independent
“This tense and thought-provoking family drama is set to become a major literary talking point as it asks the question: Just how far would you go to protect your family?” —The Bookseller
“Hugely accomplished and surprisingly subtle.” —Readers Digest (UK)