Dinner, The – A book review

How far would you go to save your loved one from the law and public eye when you know they are guilty? Would your stance change if it was only you that knew they were guilty? Well, the Dinner is based on this dilemma and much more. 

I came across the Dinner when I was hunting books for my infamous Flyaway Friday feature to Netherlands. Written by Dutch author Herman Koch, the plot definitely caught my eye. So let us see how that turned out for me, shall we?

About the book


Book Name: The Dinner

Author: Herman Koch

Genre: Fiction – Drama

Characters: Paul and Claire Lohman, Serge and Babette

Setting: Netherlands

The plot

The Dinner begins with two brothers (Paul the narrator and his brother Serge Lohman), and their respective wives (Claire and Babette) meeting for a dinner at a high end restaurant. Though most of their dinner conversations are polite and filled with small talks, they have gathered to talk about something very serious – regarding their sons and their recent activities.

Between courses of the meal, they talk about everything under the sun from movies to relationships. They welcome external interruptions, try to undermine each other, as dysfunctional families do, and anything to avoid discussing the acts of their fifteen year old sons.

When they finally open the topic, the true nature of the parents and the distance they would go to protect the children surface.

What their sons did and how their parents decide to handle the situation during and after the dinner forms the rest of the story in the Dinner

My initial thoughts

I began reading the Dinner by hating the narrator’s pretentious elder brother and then realize one by one that each of the characters are wile and truly wicked. I think the strength of the author lies on the fact that the shift happened so subtly that you never see it coming.

As someone who is not a “foodie” and does not really understand the fad about over highly priced food, I am totally with Paul’s hilarious commentary about all the pompousness associated and his brother’s pretentiousness.

The Dinner doesn’t shy away from talking about the dark and disgusting side of humanity and discusses taboo topics like the pressure to seem like a “perfect happy family”, mental illness and dehumanizing others based on labels etc

Things that worked for me

  • Every character is flawed and their gray shade made the book more interesting.
  • If you like biased and unreliable narrators, then you are in for a treat.
  • The writing and pacing are so well done that I grew as impatient as Paul at the many interruptions that kept them from discussing the topic at hand.

Things that didn’t work for me

  • If you are looking for a book with like-able characters, the Dinner is not for you.
  • The Dinner might seem unbelievable to happen in real world if you truly think that humans can’t be morally reprehensible. You will be shocked.


Read the Dinner if humanity continues to shock you, and you still want to read about the dark, dark place humans can go for selfish reasons. Perfect for you if you liked Dark places by Gillian Flynn or the Vegetarian by Han Kang

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Let us chat

Have you read this one? Do you like reading translated works from other countries? Does the likablility of the characters matter to you while reading the book? Let us talk.

24 responses to “Dinner, The – A book review”

  1. I listened to the did the audiobook in 2018 I LOVED it!!! Your post reminded me I didn’t watch the movie yet it stars Richard Gere 😍

  2. I love your detailed review and since I mostly adore Flynn’s writing I am sure that I’d enjoy The Dinner as well. Thank you for bringing it to my attention! 🙂

  3. Great review I’ve been dying to read this book for a long time now but I never got the chance to read it, but now after reading your review I really want to check it out one day. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

  4. I always find it interesting when books are following characters that are having a conversation but you can get so much out of it. And seriously, I do believe that humans can be truly despicable. I don’t mind unlikeable characters, but it has to be written in a careful way where you don’t like them but can still like and appreciate the story regardless.

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