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Synopsis

"A European Gone Girl." --The Wall Street Journal

An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives -- all over the course of one meal.

It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse -- the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.
     Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.
     Tautly written, incredibly gripping, and told by an unforgettable narrator, The Dinner promises to be the topic of countless dinner party debates. Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.


From the Hardcover edition.

Book Reviews

The Dinner
Average rating
3.3 / 5
Learnt or inherited
October 31st, 2015
This book drags your interest from the beginning, the development of characters and the plots begs for this book to be a must read.
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1 review
Terrible
September 23rd, 2015
Seems as though written by a petulant child. No substance. Just the boring inner workings of one character's mind.
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1 review
show start
July 16th, 2015
Although it was a slow start it was very good by the end. It really questions the boundaries of morality!
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1 review
Yawn.
April 11th, 2015
Pretty boring. Theres a sentence in the book that talks about if youre reading a book and you dont like it, but you finish it anyways cause you have already gone that far. That is how this book made me feel. Not for me.
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1 review
The dinner
April 6th, 2015
Loved the concept of being in the restaurant. ...it's something we do all the time ..meet up with people and talk .... fabulous the way it is revealed to us in bits and pieces ,,, found my self changing my opinion of the characters multiple times.. did not see the ending coming ,, wow quite disturbing ,, gives you lots to think about ,, I will recommend this book
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1 review
Maybe you need to be Dutch?
October 3rd, 2014
Was mostly irritated by all characters and the time frame shifting. Could not be more bored with the whole restaurant descriptions... Endlessly...
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1 review
Arg!
September 26th, 2014
No comparison to Gone Girl!
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1 review
The Dinner
July 11th, 2014
An appetizing read. A twisting and disturbing plot that keeps the readers attention throughout the meal. Well written.
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1 review
A miss for me
July 4th, 2014
This book seemed popular and had mixed reviews so I gave it a shot. If I wasn't stuck on a plane, Im not sure I would have finished it. Like most reviews state, the characters are very unlike able. Deplorable even. But I don't have to like the characters to like the book. Case in point, Gone Girl. I didn't like the writing style at all. It skipped all over and in parts, it took a few paragraphs to realize he was reflecting to years ago. The authors refusal to disclose important facts that tie to large parts of the story line, bugged me. What WAS his disorder? What WAS his wife diagnosed with? He claimed these facts added no relevance to the story, but I disagree. Perhaps the reader knowing his disorder would have created empathy for the narrator, who ultimately was a pretty big a$$hole protecting his son, who is a bigger a$$hole. I hoped I would look forward to the authors newest book after reading The Dinner, but, nah, pass thanks.
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1 review
Page turner
July 3rd, 2014
Love this author and how he unveils his story.
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1 review
Great book
April 8th, 2014
Great book for a book club. It generated a great discussion.
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1 review
January 26th, 2014
Intriguing read. Flawed, believable characters even though shallow and self-centered. Narrator's perspective is an excellent voice that carries us throughout our dinner to the disturbing end. Definitely recommend!
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1 review
January 25th, 2014
Dark as it may turn, the opening chapter 'appetizer' is hilarious...a satirical jab at foodie culture. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book and had me laughing aloud. It's wonderful to be drawn into such a dark and disturbing story with extreme laughter. The rest of the book is deeply shocking but based on a true story. It illuminates the depths to which parents will sink to protect a child, albeit one who is old enough to know right from wrong.
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1 review
January 25th, 2014
Terrible! Don't waste your money! So boring and the story had so many holes in it!
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1 review
January 25th, 2014
This was a great read, something difference from the norm and may be viewed as challenging to societies values.
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1 review
January 25th, 2014
an entertaining read into the mind of some dark and interesting characters.
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1 review
January 25th, 2014
The plot was good and characters well developed. I thought the ending was going to be more thrilling or exciting but I was left unfulfilled.
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1 review
January 24th, 2014
what some parents will do for their kids and how oblivious some parents are
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1 review
January 24th, 2014
One dinner you'll never want to end. Almost the entire book takes place over a dinner at a posh restaurant. Our unreliable narrator is one of four guests at this dinner. An event that happened weeks before begins to bubble to the surface and we, as readers, quickly become voyeurs to a family crisis. Herman Koch is a master storyteller, making you feeling like one of the guests sitting at the table and guilty by association to the characters.
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1 review
January 24th, 2014
Great book, two different sides of one story and really makes you think of how one event can be different for two sides of a family
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1 review
January 24th, 2014
I did not enjoy this book. It was not gripping and suspenseful. If you like books and movies that are fraught with character development and not a lot else, this book might be the one for you.
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1 review
January 24th, 2014
Well written but I'm afraid I wasn't engaged at all. I found the story rather plodding and it took a long time to get anywhere, so much so I have not even finished it and may not!
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1 review
January 24th, 2014
I had high hopes for this book, but it didnt keep me entertained and i found myself skipping :/
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1 review
January 24th, 2014
Well written with a twist at the end. Didn't like the people, but you weren't suposed to. Could take it or leave it.
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1 review
January 24th, 2014
I had high expectations going into this book and unfortunately they were not met. It has been described as the European 'Gone Girl' but did not manage to keep me as entertained. While the subject matter was interesting, none of the characters were overly likeable, making it hard to really engage with the novel.
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1 review
January 24th, 2014
A little slow to begin. You are wondering where it is going, then quite suddenly it is clear. Difficult to read topic wise. Was a book that created a lot of discussion with our book club members. Recommended for book club discussions. Not recommended if you do not like violence.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
This book will take you from high amusement with the descriptions of trendy restaurants, the service, and food, to numbed horror as events unfold. You will want to discuss this book with a friend: what is the influence of parental behaviour on children, what is responsible parenting, where does family loyalty end and criminal complicity start, is violence an inheritable trait. The structure of the novel keeps it well paced. You will want to know what happens.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
The narrator was very whiny and annoying. I had hoped the book would be a thoughtful discussion, but I did not find that to be the case.
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1 review
January 22nd, 2014
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. One the one hand it was interesting and quite engaging but on the other there so much about it that I hated. There are too many holes and gaps and absences of information. Throughout the book the narrator talks around things and then decides not to tell the reader parts of the story that in some cases feel important and others completely irrelevant. Why was Claire in the hospital? Did Paul put her there? Was it a miscarriage/abortion followed by tubes tied/hysterectomy? Or was it something completely benign like flu/pneumonia? Then there's the matter of Paul's illness. No such illness exists. A genetic mental illness identified by amnio that can cause violent behaviour and passed on from father to son. This just pisses me off. Firstly because there are enough interesting actual illnesses around that the author could have used had the author been bothered to do a little research and secondly because there is enough stigma and misinformation about mental illness without authors contributing to it. So these things coupled with all the unimportant omissions like the name of the restaurant, the time Claire called her son or the name of the hospital etc which I honestly wouldn't have thought about, much less cared, had the narrator never mentioned that he wasn't going to tell me. It really does make me think the author took the easy route by avoiding fact to thereby avoid having to actually look stuff up. And that's just lazy. All the characters in the book were morally bankrupt. There was not one redeeming character in the book. It's not surprising their children have serious issues when you think about it. I'm not sure which of the character's is more disturbing, Paul who suffering from some imaginary illness presumably leaves him with a diminished capacity to condemn his sons behaviour and inadvertently encourages it. Serge, a would-be prime minister's self serving behaviour is at least to be expected, although he was the only one talking about consequences. Babette who's only concern seemed to be giving up a lifestyle she enjoyed and who quite happily discussed bringing her husband down in the garden of a restaurant. And then Claire, clearly a sociopath, actively manipulating everybody and blatantly assisting her son to commit murder. I do wonder how much of this was fantasy on the part of Paul though. Did he really smash the principals face in and then smile and wave at his son across the school yard while, presumably, still holding the bloodied headmaster? Seems unlikely. Likewise did he really smash his brothers face in with a casserole dish? I suspect that in reality, most of the book is actually what Paul wished he'd done. Finally, the amnio that Paul finds at the end. I think it was left intentionally vague by the author (again, to avoid having to look stuff up) but my interpretation is this: Claire knew what Paul had even before he was diagnosed and requested the amnio (decision by parents) to see if her baby might also be afflicted. The amnio showed Michel was but she decided to carry on with the pregnancy rather than terminate. I gave it 4 stars because, despite the things I hated, I enjoyed reading it, I didn't want to put it down and after finishing it, I found it left me contemplating the characters and the plot in a way that a good book should leave you.
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1 review
Good title
December 12th, 2013
Interesting and quite good.
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1 review
Something different
November 18th, 2013
Hope his other ones are translated too
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2 reviews
Something different
November 18th, 2013
Hope his other ones are translated too
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2 reviews
Delicious
November 1st, 2013
In more than 10 years, Kelly from Fountain has never steered me wrong with a recommendation, and this was no exception. This book is dark, make no mistake, but the suspense grabs you from the first pages, and doesn't let you go. Two couples agree to meet for dinner "to discuss their children," but why, and what's to be done about them, is revealed slowly, bit by bit, over the course of the evening's meal, and the author manages to make you feel like you're right there, sitting at the next table. I probably devoured The Dinner faster than the main characters managed to finish theirs.
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1 review
The DInner
October 22nd, 2013
A very different story for sure,,two couples..including 2brothers and the dinner they have at a restaurant while they ponder what their sons did..
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1 review
Interesting
September 14th, 2013
Well that was interesting. I would say the way it was written was good but the story itself is a bit disturbing.
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1 review
Boy was this stupid
September 9th, 2013
This was highly recommended by a local newspaper. It has no redeeming characters, which is fine, but also dragged and was just a huge letdown.
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1 review
Have to read
September 6th, 2013
Amazing and dark
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1 review
Interesting
July 6th, 2013
Interesting and different. The story is slowly revealed as the dinner progresses and takes many unexpected turns. A good read.
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1 review
Intriguing
May 7th, 2013
Well written, but a rotten ending. I wanted to know more.
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1 review
The dinner
April 28th, 2013
Strangely captivating...unpleasant, but I couldn't put it down
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1 review
Meh
April 25th, 2013
Ok. Not all it was hyped to be.
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1 review
Should have skipped The Dinner!
March 17th, 2013
This was awful! Almost 20 chapters before you get to the plot. This was terrible! Next time I will just get take out!
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1 review
My thoughts...
February 20th, 2013
This was quite a read. A journey that I have never taken before.
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1 review

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