Book Review | The Dinner by Herman Koch: Needs More Impact

Title: The Dinner
Author: Herman Koch
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Publisher: Hogarth
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Pages: 292


A summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness – the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened… Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. Together, the boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on camera, and their grainy images have been beamed into living rooms across the nation; despite a police manhunt, the boys remain unidentified – by everyone except their parents. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children and, as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.


This is another one of those books that could have been great. The premise was very intriguing. The entire story takes place over a five course meal and the book is separated into sections that correspond with the meal: apperitif, appetizer, main course, dessert, and digestif. If you see some unusual words there, you’d probably like to know that this book was translated from Dutch!

The Dinner is pretty short, but it manages to spark a lot of ethical questions in the mind of the reader. What would you do to protect the people you love? Is it acceptable to cover their wrong-doings? If you could have prevented it all from the beginning, would you?

This book confused me. I wasn’t sure what to think about these people, their actions or the things they were saying. There were multiple points in the book where I felt completely disgusted. Everyone is unlikeable, but my thoughts on both families did change from the beginning to the end of the novel.

Overall, I thought the plot was pretty weak. Even though the idea of having everything take place over dinner was cool, for this particular story it was unrealistic. No one would have dinner at a posh restaurant, completely out in the open, to discuss the things they needed to discuss. Not to mention, Serge is a wildly famous politician so it’s not like they could go unnoticed. How no one overheard them is beyond me!

When it comes to mysteries, I have to know what the conclusion is so I powered through. There were some parts that were more interesting than others, but in the end, I wouldn’t really recommend this book. When I turned the last page it was like…”So, that’s it?” Needed more impact.

2.5 Stars!

star-1    star-1    halfstar-1

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.


8 thoughts on “Book Review | The Dinner by Herman Koch: Needs More Impact

  1. Looks like one I would read. I love weird, but I’ll pass. I love foreign literature, but sometimes I gets NOTHING. I feel like, ‘why is this book popular in such and such’, you know? Sometimes these type of books make it to International best seller status, but that doesn’t mean all who read it thought it great. Wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m always so curious when I read translated books. The translator couple be botching the atmosphere or slightly changing the meaning of things and you’ll never know. Still super ineresting to read them though, haha. Thanks for commenting! <3


  2. Oh no. I was really hoping this would have had a better review. I’ve had this on my wishlist for ages and was planning on buying it next month. I’ll wait a while I suppose. Maybe get it from a library.
    Agree with you on the meeting in the open at a posh restaurant but. You’d think they’d just meet at someone’s home!

    Liked by 1 person

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