A Hefty Bite

We all have to eat. The pleasure we take out of the experience is entirely dependent upon not only our personal inclinations but outside sources, too. Herman Koch’s The Dinner portrays an evening’s dinner and conversation in Amsterdam while also exploring a lifetime of experiences.

Paul Lohman and his wife Claire are going out to dinner with his brother Serge Lohman and his wife Babette. Serge is running for election and is known to many in the area, which makes getting last minute dinner reservations at a prime spot a snap. As Paul narrates the evening, with all his comic observances and asides to himself, he drops into moments of deep thought that offer a glimpse into his life before this night, which puts current events into perspective. With the evening progressing throughout the five stages of dinner, so too does the story develop from what seems like a character study through observances to a narrative of deeper import with the involvement of the couples’ children’s behavior, which begs for the parents to discuss over their dinner.

Psychologically speaking, the story was interesting as Paul is an unreliable narrator who has blanks in his memory, which can cause a reader to question what has actually happened. I enjoyed how the narrative was laid out into the five stages of a dinner and how the action evolved along a similar line–it was reminiscent of a play in this regard, as it prepares a reader for what comes next. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters presented, even if I could understand where they were coming from in their attempt to protect their family from harm.

Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


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