Usually, I go for books by authors that I’ve heard of before, or if the cover looks appealing. The Dinner by Herman Koch fell into the second category, since it had a picture of a lobster (which, by the way, wasn’t featured as a dish any of the characters ate) on the front. The Dinner was originally written in Dutch, and was translated into English. It follows two Dutch couples (two brothers and their wives) who have dinner in a restaurant, and is narrated by one of the brothers, Paul Lohman.
I found the narration easy to follow, even though it constantly moves between the past and the present (at the restaurant). What really helped me to understand the relationship between the two brothers was the back story, and the little details that the narrator pointed out, which in any other book would have been seen as tedious and mundane.
The idea that a political candidate could be harbouring a dark family secret was intriguing. Though I knew the narrator was biased, I slowly grew to hate his brother for being so focussed on his political career and for being so pretentious. Yet at the end, I pitied him for losing the election that he had worked towards.
Overall, The Dinner is a good read, if a little stilted. It tackles the issue of parental responsibility for their children’s actions, but lacked flow.