Review: The Diner

December 14, 2016 Uncategorized 6

Review: The DinerTitle: The Dinner
Author: Herman Koch, Sam Garrett
Source: Library
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: The author did an incredible job of creeping me out, but each ‘reveal’ felt predictable to me.

“A summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness – the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened… Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. Together, the boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on camera, and their grainy images have been beamed into living rooms across the nation; despite a police manhunt, the boys remain unidentified – by everyone except their parents. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children and, as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.” (Source)

This is a book I’ve been hearing about for a long time, so I knew to expect something dark, shocking, and uncomfortable. Although I also knew a lot of people who had loved it, I wasn’t sure that was for me. Surprisingly, my favorite thing about it was how uncomfortable it made me. I’ve read things that are more explicit, but the juxtaposition of normal life with darkness and violence made this feel unique. The author definitely pushed the boundaries.

Despite the fact that this book was as dark and uncomfortable as I expected, it wasn’t as shocking while I was reading. As a whole, looking back it, I’m shocked by it. When I was reading it, there was an inexorability to it. I could tell the author was going to continue escalating and even content that I know find shocking, wasn’t surprising. I just felt the author tipped his hand too much before points where I expected climactic revelations. The writing was stellar, but the predictability as I read meant it didn’t quite live up to the hype for me.

6 Responses to “Review: The Diner”

  1. Sarah's Book Shelves

    That’s interesting that you heard this was shocking before reading it. I had never heard that before I read it and loved it. I’d say it was dark and definitely uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t describe it as shocking looking back on it. Funny what expectations can do!

    • DoingDewey

      Your comment makes me wonder if I decided it was going to be shocking based on what I’d heard about it being so dark! That was definitely my expectation, but I’m not sure if the reviews I read explicitly suggested it would be.

    • DoingDewey

      I don’t think anyone should cross it off their to-read list based on my experience. I do think this was mostly a case of my expectations not aligning with the book rather than a case of this not being a great book.

    • DoingDewey

      I do think the characters are all pretty hate-worthy, although I found them fascinating enough that I wasn’t bothered by the fact that I didn’t empathize with any of them. I’m not sure if the predictability would bother you. I can read formulaic books and am not bothered by predictability if I’m expecting it. I think I was only bothered by it here because it didn’t meet my expectations.