The Dinner by Herman Koche

I had been hearing about this book for a while before I stumbled into this magical bookstore that had just opened in DT Oakland near my work and after chatting with the owner for a few minutes, he suggested I read this next. It took me about 20 books in-between buying it to the point of actually sitting down and reading it, but when I did I couldn't stop! I sat on my porch in the sun and read until I was 200 pages in and had a book hangover of sorts- I think that is the only way to describe it. 


Yet there was something else, something different about her this time, like a room where someone has thrown out all the flowers while you were gone: a change in the interior you don’t even notice at first, not until you see the stems sticking out of the garbage.” - The Dinner, Herman Koche


The Dinner by Herman Koche is about two families (actually, brothers and their wives and sons) and a sticky situation they find themselves in. Its a mystery of sorts, but you don't really realize that you are missing pieces of the story until its almost too late- when you are in so deep you can't back out. Its told and broken up by courses of a meal; the appetizer, main course, dessert, so on.  The story is based in Amsterdam and is based around a dinner party and secrets unfolding about a crime, so lasting mostly over a few hours but with multiple flashbacks. SO interesting and witty, its one of those where you can't trust anyone and you can't tell who you are rooting for because you want to trust all the characters but hate everyone at the same time. 

“If I had to give a definition of happiness, it would be this: happiness needs nothing but itself; it doesn’t have to be validated.” - The Dinner, Herman Koch


I think I was really drawn to this book because of its focus on twisted family dynamics and how we glamorize youth culture. There were some loose parts of the book I wasn't super into; character development or lack there of at the end, the way the story seems to turn in confusing and unrealistic times, and the back and forth of trust within different characters. There was no happy or warm ending, it left me feeling a bit nauseous a few days after but I couldn't get it out of my mind. 

I have suggested and passed this book to a few people who have similar interests in; true crime, crime fiction, books like Gone Girl (in the sense that characters done overcome pure evil), European culture, or just a story that you must continue. 


“That was how I looked at life sometimes, as a warm meal that was growing cold. I knew I had to eat, or else I would die, but I had lost my appetite.”