Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review: "The Dinner"

Herman Koch's The Dinner is NOT a feel good novel. It is exquisite, but certainly not the type of story to inspire you or make you love your fellow human being. In fact, about half way through the novel, when the entire story and mood shifts, I had a moment where I said to myself "I have just lost faith in the human race..." It's that kind of book....

However, from a craft point of view, Koch is a genius. The setting for his tale of family disintegration and human depravity is one single night, at one single place: a restaurant. There are a multitude of flashbacks, yes, but the focused intensity that Koch creates as two couple sit a table is extraordinary. The true brilliance of The Dinner, however, lies in Koch's ability to manipulate the reader like a puppet master. His commentary on deception is mirrored so completely by the experience of the reader. Just as you are drawn in, just as you decide which characters to believe in, which story to trust, Koch turns everything on its head and while the effect is unsettling, it is also masterful to behold.

Like I said, The Dinner is not for the faint of heart or those looking for a quick beach read. But connoisseurs of literary genius and impeccable style and craft will be dazzled.

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