Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Dinner by Herman Koch

I think I fell for every trick the author had up his sleeve on this one. I flew through this book like I was expecting the last page to reveal to me some magical secret of flight or something. Of course, it did nothing of the sort. But I love it when a book hooks me like this book hooked me.

I liked that there is one minor detail that makes this a work of science-fiction. I won't mention what that is, as that would spoil things for the reader. Also, some readers might get to the end and have no idea what little detail I'm referring to. Which is fine, it doesn't have to be a work of SF if you don't want it to be.

The writing was excellent. I was continually impressed with the apparent ease and deftness with which the author dealt with shifts in time and space. I was never lost and the switching back and forth and further back in time really added to the tension of the narrative.

The only issue I had with this book was with the basic premise. I find it hard to believe that any set of parents would agree to meet for dinner to discuss a horrible crime their children have committed. It seems to me that the likely future Prime Minster of Holland would really rather meet by a noisy waterfall and ask that everyone remove the batteries from their cell phones so as to thwart any potential eavesdroppers. The fact that this story centers around a dinner at a posh Dutch restaurant is fine. It adds a nice structure to the overall proceedings. I just saw no real need to make it explicitly a date to discuss a heinous crime over haute cuisine. It should have been treated as an 'elephant in the room' type scenario.

Recommended to people who might like to read something that's like a cross between the works of Ira Levin and Donna Tartt (75% Levin, 25% Tartt).

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