The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner

Herman Koch

Brothers and their wives meet for dinner. What could be nicer? But none of these four are sympathetic characters, and as the story unfolded the less I liked them, especially the narrator. In conspiring to 'help' his son he reveals his own twisted view of life. A veneer of very polite society over something much darker. I kept reading because I kept thinking, would I do that?

Extract

What I said to that girl doesn't matter here, let me be clear about that. It would distract us from the real issue. It would add nothing. Sometimes things come out of your mouth that you regret later on. Or no, not regret. You say something so sharp that the person you say it to carries it around with them for the rest of their life.
I thought about her cheerful face. When I had said to her what I said, it broke down the middle. Like a vase. Or like a glass that shatters at a high-pitched note.

Parallels
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
  • The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas