Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: The Dinner by Herman Koch

On a night like any other, two couples meet for dinner to discuss some recent events involving their fifteen year old sons.  Over the course of the dinner, we begin to realize, with growing suspense and disbelief, that the boys have committed a horrible crime and are now the subjects of a police investigation.  We also grow to increasingly suspect that our narrator is not as innocent as he seems to be.

Another great addition to my string of literary fiction featuring an unreliable narrator.  And if I were forced to pick a favorite, I would probably choose this one.  I think it's probably the most literary of all of them.  It's compact and doesn't require a huge time commitment, but it packs a huge punch.  I think the slow reveal of character was my favorite part.  Each of the four main characters is so deep and so dynamic, and those aspects are slowly revealed over the course of the book. 

Entertainment Value
In addition to being well-written, the story is engrossing.  For a book that takes place over the course of a single evening, it was remarkably consuming.  I couldn't wait to see what would be revealed next and found it as suspenseful and horrifying as any thriller I've read recently.

If you don't typically read literary fiction, but you're interested in giving it a try, this is a great book to start with.  It doesn't fall into the plotless stereotype of literary fiction by any means.  The pacing is perfect.  And I can't rave enough about how fascinating the characters are.  I think regular readers of literary fiction will also enjoy it, as will those who love thrillers.


  1. I've been looking for a literary fiction pick for a genre challenge, and this one sounds perfect. Thanks for the review!

  2. Ok, I accidentally put this comment for the book below. Sorry!
    This is one I'd like to read. I am always interested in stories where the book finishes over a few hours. It amazes me when authors can start and wrap up one night in an entire book.

  3. I've never cared much for an unreliable narrator, even when an author does an excellent job with the structure. :(

  4. It sounds like a good read. A story that develops over one night? I'll watch out for this one to see if it goes on sale on Amazon.

  5. I love unreliable narrators and thrillers, adding this one to the Wishlist. I think I just missed a great special on amazon too, sigh.