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May 08

What’s For Dinner?

Posted on May 8, 2013 at 3:30 PM by Craig Jacobson

The Dinner pic.jpgWhat’s for dinner?  Who hasn’t asked that question?  When I read about the buzz surrounding Herman Koch’s book, “The dinner” I just had to find out.  Sure it’s about food and fine dining, but that’s not the meat.  Oh no, there’s so much more to chew about.  It’s a story that involves two families, shattered lives and how one act can bring out the sheer ugliness in people.

The story begins with the meeting of two couples at a restaurant.  It’s not your ordinary local establishment, but an upscale restaurant in Amsterdam with a reservations list months long.  Luckily Serge, one of the characters, a politician and popular candidate as the future prime minister of the Netherlands has a reservation.  The opening chapters begin with aperitifs, followed by the appetizer and it isn’t until chapter 16 that the main course is served. This is subsequently followed by dessert and the final digestifs.

 Like peeling back an onion, Koch slowly unravels the relationship of the characters through the eyes of one protagonist Paul Lohman.  We see Paul’s manic, unreliable, nasty demeanor only increase as the story progresses. Readers will experience lots of flashbacks set against a background that runs from casual and comedic to dark and tense and then finally climaxing into a shockingly, horrible twisted story. 

Secrets and questions abound throughout.  Characters change from being sympathetic at the start to exhibiting alarming behavior as the five course meal is served.  If you like to eat and don’t worry about the indigestion you may experience go right ahead and give this book a try.

If you find you liked this book you may also enjoy the following titles.

We need to talk about Kevin: a novel by Lionel Shriver

The mother of an incarcerated teenager who murdered seven of his fellow high school students tells of his upbringing and her own shortcomings in a series of letters to her estranged husband.

The slap by Christos Tsiolkas

At a barbecue in a Melbourne suburb a man loses his temper and slaps a child of the host’s friends triggering a court case pitting friends and families against each other.

Gone girl: a novel by Gillian Flynn

A woman disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary. Police suspect the husband. And then strange searches show up on his computer followed by persistent phone calls on his mobile phone. What really happened to the wife?

Engleby: a novel by Sebastian Faulks

In the single disturbing voice readers are introduced to Mike Engleby.  There seems to be something odd and unreliable about him.  And then Jennifer Arkland a classmate he is fixated on goes missing. Is Mike involved?

Defending Jacob: a novel by William Landay

Andy Barber is a respected district attorney in suburban Massachusetts.  He has a nice home and family. But when a shocking murder takes place in his town Andy is blindsided by what happens next.  His fourteen- year- old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Before and after by Rosellen Brown

The Reisers were a typical American family from a New England town.  But then one day the doorbell rang, bringing news of a shattering crime that would turn their son into a stranger and tear their lives in half.

Next: a novel by James Hynes

One man, one day, and a novel bursting with drama, comedy, and humanity.

Picture courtesy of Google images.