The dinner Herman Koch
Translator Sam Garrett
Herman Koch is fairly well known in his homeland of the Holland ,as he is a tv producer and also an actor in the dutch show Jiskefet a humourous sort of satire show that ran for a number of years on dutch television .He has also lived in both russia and Finland earlier in his time .The dinner was his sixth novel ,he has also published short stories and a collection of newspaper columns .
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 .”all happy families are alike ,each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way ” opening sentence of Tolstoy’s Anne Karenina
Paul just as him and his wife Claire arrive at the restaurant
Now when the Dinner arrived I was a bit worried ,when I see it mention in comparison to the slap a book which I hated ,anyway safe to say after reading it yes the bare bone is maybe along the line of the slap , something happens a turning point like in the slap ,but here it is two boys not one and this turning point is a lot more serious than the slap was .The book was based loosely on an event that happened in 2005 in Barcelona here is the report of the court case from el pais
Everyone ,of course ,had noticed the Lohmans arrival .There was even what you might described as a stifled tumult around the lectern :no less than three girls in black pinafores were fussing over Serge and Babette ,the manager was hovering around the lectern too
Paul watching his successful brother arrive for their dinner
SO we meet two sets of obviously worried parents ,the book is set out like the dinner they are about to have so we get five main parts Apretif ,appetizer ,main course ,desert and digestif .the two couples are brothers and sister in-laws .Paul and Serge the brothers although brothers as the meal unfolds you see they have different values and reasons for their sons doing this act the meal starts with a lot of simple chatter about films and the times but always a sense of the real reason they are there .Part of me feel although this book is about one small incident that is very violent and maybe like similar crimes in the uk can be used to highlight a change in moral standards a sort of the youth have gone wild as we often see headlines in papers like the daily mail .This book is maybe that discussion using the two sets of parents as the different values that can be found in modern holland ,one being more liberal and the other saying that kids should be drawn more into line and this is the reason this act happened Paul is a teacher and his brother is an up and coming politician ,whose career hangs in the balance because of this act his son and nephew did .This is all seen through the less successful brother eyes the over the top meal and his brothers airs and graces .I was reminded at times of Frasier and wondered if this had happen to him how it would be handled ,because under it all is the black satire that Koch made his name with in the past a look at modern morals and manners ,also the changing face of youth .I found this a challenging book that makes the reader think about what you would do and as at some point in the near future I hopefully be a father as we try for a child I maybe for the first time wondered what I would do if my child did this and like the couples the answer to that question is very hard .
Have you read this book ?
Did you like the slap ?