The Dinner, by Hermann Koch

Second paragraph of third chapter:

I was standing in the doorway to his room. He wasn’t there. But let’s not beat around the bush: I knew he wasn’t there. He was in the garden, fixing the back tire of his bike.

This is a novel about an uncomfortable family meal in Amsterdam (which I read, with impeccable timing, immediately after a weekend in Amsterdam with my siblings and mother). Serge is in the running to be the next prime minister; Paul, the narrator, has become aware of a heinous crime that their sons committed; their wives Claire and Babette are in the conversation; the dinner is interrupted at various points in various ways; the technology of the mobile phone plays a key part in the narrative. It’s intense and a bit unpleasant, but gripping reading. I often find unreliable narrators a bit annoying, but this one worked for me.

This was both the most popular unread book I acquired in 2016 and the most popular unread non-genre work of fiction on my shelves. Next on those lists, respectively, are V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and The Innocent Man by John Grisham.

One thought on “The Dinner, by Hermann Koch

  1. The thing I remember is the enormous feeling of relief when I watched “The Eleventh Hour” because I’d grown to really, really dislike 10, and I didn’t want to dislike the Doctor and then suddenly we get the raggedy madman in a box and I was in love with Dr Who again. I’m really not ready for 11 to be gone.

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