My first impression of this book, The Dinner by Herman Koch, came as I wandered up and down the aisles of the local half price books. The multitude of novels arranged in ways I will never understand overwhelmed me, per usual. So I made my way to the ‘staff picks’ shelf and my eyes were drawn to the cover because it was different from the others. After reading the synopsis and the review by the employee, I figured, “shit. It’s only $2.50 – why not?” So I bought the book and went on my way.
This book’s description on the back was the most vague thing I have ever read in my entire life. I figured it simply went along with the suspenseful nature of the book: the author didn’t want to give away too much. Koch definitely wrote this to be a page turner. The plot of the novel took place over the span of one evening, in a restaurant, during the course of one meal. But every few chapters revealed more and more of the characters’ pasts to the reader. However, just as soon as these flashbacks seemed to near the present time in the book, the chapter would abruptly end, and the scene would shift. While I found this extremely frustrating, it also was written extremely well and did its job to add to the ‘edge of your seat’ vibe.
All of the flashbacks obviously would overlap as the novel came to a close, but how they related to each other was not revealed until the last portion of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book up until this point, but the ending seemed extremely anticlimactic and unsatisfying to me. While Koch excelled at keeping the reader interested, I felt that the book’s ending fell short of what it could have been; the ending was quite abrupt and provided little closure.
I would still recommend this book to a friend though, as it did provide me with enjoyment for the most part. 6/10 – I didn’t love it, but I didn’t regret reading it.