Book Review – The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner by Herman Koch
Published:  August 1st 2012 by Atlantic Books (first published January 2009)
Genre: Fiction, mystery, contemporary
Pages: 311

When people get a chance to come close to death without having it touch them personally, they never miss the opportunity. – Herman Koch, the dinner

Well that was the double date from hell! Two couples – two brothers and their wives meet up for dinner at a posh restaurant in Amsterdam. (I’m such a dork I read this book while in Amsterdam and brought it with me to every restaurant for the full experience! Is there even a name for doing something like that? Litreality?)


The book starts off good, it’s exciting when you don’t know what’s about to happen or where the evening will take them. It’s best read with the surprising turns, so if you haven’t read this and plan on reading it I would stop reading this review instantly!

“That’s the oppressive thing about happiness, they way everything is out on the table like an open book.” Herman Koch, the dinner

First of all, ALL the characters in this book are complex human beings shown at their ugliest. There’s not one character to really like, but I find that extremely interesting! It’s important to remember that this is all happening within one night – aside from backstory being flashbacked into the story here and there. The flashbacks tries to soften the characters, but it doesn’t work, they’re all assholes. Still I liked the study of human behaviour in every possible tense and strained situation.

It’s cleverly written and divided into five acts, just like a meal – aperitif – appetizer -main course – dessert – digestif. A quick and easy read if you like something with a little bad aftertaste.

Just for the hell of it, I watched the movie from 2017 with Richard Gere and Laura Linney after finishing the book and I absolutely hated the movie – no surprise there.