• The Dinner

  • By: Herman Koch
  • Narrated by: Clive Mantle
  • Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 08-02-12
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • 4 out of 5 stars 3.9 (59 ratings)

Regular price: $18.33

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Publisher's Summary

A summer's evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. 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 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, and as civility and friendship disintegrates, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.
©2009 Herman Koch (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Ilinca on 12-10-13

excellent novel, excellent narration

The Dinner is a spectacular book about family and society, among other things as well. This is not a cute book. It's heavy because it's about heavy things, and because it doesn't take heavy things lightly.

I liked the progression from bland dinner table conversation, pigmented with hints of a couple of mysterious incidents (something found in the phone of Paul's teenage son; Paul's sister-in-law arriving for dinner with traces of tears in her eyes), to the unfolding of the drama behind the dinner. The drama that started years before with instances of personal drama and of parenting; the drama that spikes in a horrific incident, then again in discussing it at home, then again at the dinner table.

The fact that this is a Dutch novel is extremely relevant, since Dutch society struggles with a very tolerant front which sometimes comes up to kick itself in the teeth. It is amazing what torments hide behind the blandness of equality and tolerance - not that they always turn violent, but that fear of speaking up against indiscriminate equality becomes oppressive in itself.

"The Dinner" is a painful analysis of society and family, delivered not from a high moral standpoint, but with a subtle understanding of nuances, of small things that make up or break up lives and relationships.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By James on 03-02-13

The problem is...it's all highly improbable

Any additional comments?

The publisher''s summary describes the set up well. While the story centres around a dinner at a restaurant one evening between two couples, what is revealed slowly over the course of the story are the events that have has preceded this night and the real reason as to why the couples have come together for this dinner. That is fine as it goes and I found it intriguing.

The real problem with the story, however, is that what is described as having occurred prior to the dinner is reasonably improbable. I just found it hard to believe. The couples' reaction to it I found equally unlikely in a normal world and what comes after the dinner is also hard to swallow. This is really unfortunate as the author spends quite a bit of time making insightful observations about dinners and about restaurants generally which will resonate with a lot of readers and is quite amusing. But in the end, what should have been a work that could have been drawn from real life just turned into more or less a bit of a fantasy tale.

Other commentators have remarked on the slowness of the reveal and the pace of the book. I did not find that a problem at all as the whole basis of the story is the slow reveal. The little pieces that you put together one by one as the story unfolds. It is just that all the pieces do not, in the end, add up to very much.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By M on 10-19-14

A wonderfully dark modern parable.

I'm a sucker for a good allegory, and Herman Koch serves up a deliciously dark apologue in "The Dinner" with the dysfunctional families at the heart of the tale representing those of us in the privileged West, and how - either through complacency, complicity or actual downright bloodyminded and fully conscious awareness - we'll cross our so called "civilised" moral borders in order to protect our own, and hang onto our entitled lifestyle, should they be threatened.
There's nobody to like here and, wonderfully, the only character who's willing to do what's "right" is the one we universally and instinctively despise: a vain and self-serving politician. We're all in here somewhere, no matter our class, and we're all found guilty. A wonderful and disturbing book that was brilliantly narrated.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By Amanda on 03-12-13

Looked good but looks can be deceiving!

This book was dull and it looked as if it was going to be so good. Too much detail of the same thing! The narrater is trying to sound like Steven Fry but badly! Its something about nothing really.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Kristy on 01-11-18

Dull story with an underwhelming twist

Any additional comments?

I constantly found myself zoning out during this one, though it wasn't any fault of the narrator. I just couldn't connect with any of the characters, and it was just too slow going for my tastes. I stuck it out to the end in the hopes it would pick up, but sadly it didn't. The "horrific act" that the children did just didn't have any sort of wow factor, leaving it a really underwhelming twist.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Kellie Grealy on 11-01-17

It was great

I really enjoyed the voice performance!
The story kept me interested and character building was great.
Quick listen too!

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