The Dinner takes place over the course of one evening. Two brothers and their wives meet at a sophisticated restaurant and eat their way through the expensive menu as they tiptoe closer and closer to the reason they are all there — a heinous crime committed by their teenage sons. As the night wears on, hostilities simmer and relationships crumble.
In keeping with the culinary theme, Koch divides his novel into five sections: Apertif, Appetizer, Main Course, Dessert, and Digestif.
“The first thing that struck you about Claire’s plate was its vast emptiness. Of course I’m well aware that, in the better restaurants, quality takes precedence over quantity, but there are voids and then there are voids. The void here, that part of the plate on which no food at all was present, had clearly been raised to a matter of principle. It was as though the empty plate was challenging you to say something about it, to go to the open kitchen and demand an explanation. ‘You wouldn’t even dare!’ the plate said, and laughed in your face.”
Herman Koch is a Dutch radio personality, actor and author. He has published several novels, short stories, and columns in Dutch, though only two of his books, The Dinner and Summer House with Swimming Pool, have been translated to English.
Length: 282 pages
Set in: The Netherlands
Translated by: Sam Garrett