The Dinner

Author(s): Herman Koch

Fiction - Thriller

Paul Lohman and his brother Serge and their wives are going to dinner. Paul knows the evening will not be fun. The restaurant will be overpriced and pretentious, and almost everything the charismatic Serge does will infuriate him. But tonight's get-together will be worse than usual because there is something the two couples have to discuss. When the small talk is over, the conversation will turn to their teenage sons. And the terrible thing they have done. And how far the four of them will go to save their children from the consequences of their actions.

A topsy-turvy tale of two brothers: one a high school history teacher; the other a sleazy, right-wing politician, soon to announce his candidacy for Prime Minister. Along with their wives, they are dining at an exclusive restaurant, talking of their sons, who, it becomes apparent, have committed some awful crime. How can they fix it? How can they, as parents, protect their beloved children? Is what is perhaps best for their offspring also best for them as parents? As the dinner progresses, things that were clear-cut during the entrees are not so with the cheese platter. A brilliant, edge-of-your-seat read. - Lucy

As gripping as it is disturbing, I couldn't put this book down until it was finished. Reminding me in some ways of Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Dinner focuses on two couples who meet over dinner to talk about their children. As the book (and the evening) progresses, it becomes apparent that the children have done something terrible and their parents are struggling to decide what the best way of dealing with it might be. At times intensely disturbing, this book examines the lengths to which some parents are willing to go in order to protect their children, regardless of whether their actions are likely to fit within accepted moral boundaries.  - Kesia

I was immediately engrossed in this initially simple tale of two brothers and their wives sharing a meal in an expensive restaurant to discuss their sons' problems. Translated from the Dutch, the feel of Holland pervades the book. Characters increasingly reveal their flaws and the depth of the problems involved… I shunned all company until I had finished, really exciting! - Maclean


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* Reviews in national and metropolitan newspapers and weekly publications * Reading group notes available on

Shortlisted for Specsavers National Book Awards: International Author of the Year 2012. Long-listed for PEN West Literary Award for Translation 2014.

'Funny, provocative and exceedingly dark, this is a brilliantly addictive novel that wraps its hands around your throat on page one and doesn't let go.' S.J. Watson 'What a tremendous book. I loved every single gripping and strange thing about it.' M.J. Hyland 'A heartstopping thriller, in which no one is innocent. Koch is brilliant at not letting the reader off the hook.' -- Niccolo Ammaniti 'Are family values good? The Dinner will have you wondering. By the end, when all has become truly chilling, you'll have to rethink everything, including who you are and what you believe. This is a book you won't forget.' -- David Vann 'Herman Koch's The Dinner is a riveting, compelling and a deliciously uncomfortable read. Like all great satire it is both lacerating and so very funny. The Dinner got under my skin and punctured all my safe liberal smugness and pieties. Intelligent and complex, this novel is both a punch to the guts and also a tonic. It clears the air. A wonderful book.' -- Christos Tsiolkas 'In this exploration of how two families deal with an explosive event, The Dinner is reminiscent of Christos Tsiolkas's blockbuster The Slap.' -- Stephen Romei Australian 'What a wonderfully awkward, slow-burning, page-turning novel it turned out to be.' Melbourne Weekly 'As much as The Dinner is a suspenseful story about teenage cousins Michel and Rick, it is equally the rich portrayal of the characters and their individual views that pin the reader to the page.' Courier Mail 'Koch's uncomfortable tale is a wonderful thriller, where the reader's sympathies are forced to switch again and again, and where you race to a final outcome that is anything but what you might expect. Blackly funny, full of sharp edges and hot issues, and compulsively readable. Verdict: feast on this.' Herald Sun 'The Dinner is a masterful, disturbing piece of theatre.' Age / SMH 'Little wonder this literary degustation is an international best-seller...a cult movie in the making.' Australian Women's Weekly 'Terrific, fascinating writing.' Otago Daily Times 'You'll need a cast-iron stomach to cope with the horrific details, but this meditation on middle-class dilemmas makes compulsive reading.' North South 'Sharpen the knives and batten down the tableware!...Herman Koch's The Dinner is a biting, blackly funny story of the lengths to which parents will go to protect their offspring.' Vogue 'Koch's structure is superb and his story unfolds like a finely crafted piece of theatre.' Weekly Review 'A tightly written thriller which skilfully plays and changes perceptions of the characters with every paragraph, this will leave you feeling shocked and appalled, but full of admiration for the mastery of Koch's storytelling.' Sunday Herald Sun 'I'm confidently predicting that The Dinner will become this summer's literary talk of the town.' Evening Standard 'Proves how powerful fiction can be in illuminating the modern world...The best beach read of the season.' Economist 'Shivers kept shooting up my backbone as I became engrossed in Koch's darkly disturbing tale of family life...As the dinner disintegrates into mayhem, we discover just how far the middle classes will go to protect their monstrous offspring.' Daily Mail (UK) 'Rather like The Slap it is set to become a contentious must-read. It may thrill, chill or cheat, but it is undeniably riveting.' Independent 'Wrenchingly funny and bleak...the darker the whole thing gets, the more your sides will be splitting. The result is a hugely accomplished and surprisingly subtle novel.' Reader's Digest

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General Fields

  • : 9781922147561
  • : Text Publishing Company
  • : Text Publishing Company
  • : 0.24
  • : February 2013
  • : 198mm X 129mm
  • : Australia
  • : December 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Herman Koch
  • : Paperback
  • : 1213
  • : en
  • : 839.31/364
  • : 320