Review – The Dinner: A Novel by Herman Koch.


This was a novel of beautifully slow pacing. A husband and wife out to a painfully slow, grotesquely upscale dinner which they admit dreading from the morning of. The drinks, the appetizers, the meal, the desserts, and all the life in between. The novel matched the meal in time – dragging in a way that was purposeful and neat. The lines that finished each chapter were crisp and the chapters themselves were timed beautifully, each chapter ending with a cut that left an absence, a statement in itself with the words unsaid.

I listened to the audio version of this book, narrated by Clive Mantel, and he took the time with the story that it deserved. Each time he spat out the family name I felt all the emotions boiled up underneath “Lohman”, I heard the contempt broiling up in way that is hard to do in a narration without sounding overdone.

I was surprised to read other reviews that compared this to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Every book I’ve read since Gone Girl has been published, there’s a required comparison. I don’t see too many similarities. I would compare this to the film There Will Be Blood by Paul Thomas Anderson, for its slow crawl through the story, and its emphasis on family, social expectations, and violence. Or another comparison here, without giving too much away of either book, would be to Defending Jacob by William Landay.

I loved this book and it helped me get through several loads of laundry and many commutes. If you dislike a book that drifts before it reaches its conclusion, however, I’d skip it.

The Dinner on

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