[465]: The Dinner by Herman Koch

DSC_0740GOODREADS SUMMARY | Hogarth | February 12th, 2013 | Hardcover, 304 pages
| Adult Fiction | Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


I wish I’d read Gone Girl before this. Because then I could at least decide if the comparison has  merits. As it is, this book was not what I’d expected for something that was highly praised by the literary community. Which proves  that once again, just because it’s a highly acclaimed book, it doesn’t mean the book is written for me.

Reservation for four.

The entire book happened in one day, most likely in just a few hours. The book is sectioned in parts that correspond with the courses of the meal. And as the meal progresses, bits of pieces about the characters and the plot are revealed. In the core is a story about a couple of brothers in the throes of a sibling rivalry, but they’ll never admit to each other’s jealousy. One is a high ranking official who may just be Netherland’s next Prime Minister, and the other, a teacher on leave due to a breakdown.

They have teens consisting of three boys and one girl. One was adopted from Africa. The epicenter of this book is around these kids, and why the dinner was called to begin with. I’m not going to expand any further, as it would ruin the anticipation of unraveling the threads.

All you need to know is that the slow reveal will either make you salivate or as in my case…

Lose your appetite.

How far would you go to protect your child? At what point does that love turn into madness? If you can answer those questions, then you might have a better chance at understanding these characters better than I did.

You will never meet a more unreliable narrator such as Paul.  He is a psychopath, and I don’t mean that in all the sense of the word. Perhaps, more of a sociopath? He presents a calm and well put together character, but he’s as unpredictable as they come. He beat his son’s principal to a pulp with nary a twitch, and he’s done worst things to others that he thought have done his son wrong. And yet the world sees him as a loving husband and a doting family man.  As a parent, I know the infinite length of  how far I would to go to protect my children. What I don’t know though, is whether I would forsake laws for them.

This is where you’ll start to wonder the relevance of nature versus nurture. And in this case, I think it’s a bit of both.

Over all, I struggled with this book. It didn’t appeal to my maternal instincts, nor did it engage me as a reader. The characters’ actions made sense, but I can’t say I felt any empathy.

You need to have an appreciation for an author’s wiles not to divulge information. At the same time, you need to have patience for some details that you’d normally consider as banal. Such was the root of my struggles with this book. It was stingy with the details that matter, and generous with the things that do not.