The Dinner

Dutch writer and actor Herman Koch ( offers us a dark suspense of a novel in The Dinner (first published in Dutch in 2009). The summary is as follows. It’s a summer 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 and gripping, The Dinner is told by an unforgettable narrator. Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus and 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. This is one for those of you who savour psychological tension.

320 pages in Atlantic Books paperback edition

ISBN 978-1848873834

Herman Koch

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