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- The Dinner by Herman Koch
Sunday, 5 May 2013
This book spends an evening with two couples in an Amsterdam restaurant; two brothers and their wives. One is an up and coming politician and the other a teacher. Throughout the evening, the conversations are stilted and the tension palpable. Many words are left unspoken, creating great awkwardness throughout each course of the dinner. Not only are the couples linked through blood and marriage but also because their two 15 year old sons are friends. However, their children have committed a heinous crime and the couples must decide what course of action to take. Who will protect their child and turn a blind eye?
This is an interesting story, albeit I felt a little slow to start. However, once the reader’s interest is piqued, the story draws you in, and you become intrigued as to how far will their parents go to do what they consider the right thing? It poses a serious moral dilemma for every parent – how far would you go to protect your child? What sort of secrets would you keep? Would you break the law yourself? Would you risk your marriage?
The story is told through a series of flashbacks and dinner conversation, and you can almost feel the tension between the characters. Polite conversation is made when you feel all they really want to do is hide away and forget they know the truth about their children. The book has a few surprising twists and the reader is left surprised by who makes certain decisions and who takes the moral high ground. We find out a lot of background information in relation to the central characters and there are definitely a few surprises there too. A good and interesting read that will be the basis for many a dinner conversation between parents. Lets face it. Who wants to ever be put in the position these characters find themselves in? Would your relationship with your child ever be the same again?