Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The Dinner by Herman Koch

I have read several reviews on this book, from various blogs, and all of them positive. It is always with a little bit of anticipation you start a book like that. You are afraid that you will not like is as much as you might think. Well, with this book, I did not need to have any worries.

The Dinner is a family drama, although you don't know exactly what kind of drama from the beginning. The story is told from the point of view of one brother. A brother that has a somewhat minority complex towards his older brother, who is a successful and famous politician. Even the possible new prime minister of the country. You understand that the younger brother is envious of his older brother, although in his own mind, he is not.

The two brothers meet for dinner with their wives. Arranged by the older brother, they go to one of the most famous and excellent restaurant in the city. Only the possibility for his brother to get a table at this top restaurant, makes the younger one squirm. As the dinner proceeds the feelings between the four participants deteriorates in various ways. The main reason for the dinner is to discuss their two sons who have ended up in trouble, although it is not clear what kind of trouble. Indications are dropped here and there, but it is only at the end of the dinner, that the horrors of the whole situation come out in the open.

The story reminds me of We have to talk about Kevin, which is another novel about the difficulties of raising children, and our role as parents and guardians in their lives. As with that novel, this ones gives you a dark undertone, something is wrong but you don't know exactly what. When the story reveals itself in full, you wonder who really has problems; the children or the parents. Spooky!

An excellent book and I really enjoyed it. The story reveals itself, little by little, and even when you think you know what happens, you realise you don't. The ending is not what you can expect and maybe that is why you can almost think of this book as a horror story.

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