Dutch Lit fortnight – Herman Koch Answers some questions

the dinner

I was lucky to be able to Ask the writer of The dinner a few questions via E-mail ,so here are his answers ,you can also see my review Here and A look at the food in The dinner here .
1 Which writers have influenced you ?
I started with reading the Russians when I was sixteen, I think they still have the biggest influence: Tcheckov, Turgenev, Tolstoj and Dostojewski.

2 How did you come up for the idea for the dinner ?
It starrted with a real event in Barcelona where two boys molested a homeless person in a cash machine. The boys looked so nice, so normal, they were laughing and having fun, and I thought: “They are ruining their whole future in five minutes….” So from the starting point I identified with the boys, not with their victim. That was the trigger for the book.

3 How many meals out did you have before deciding on the menu for the meal ?
I tried to remember all the absurd meals I had in the past twenty years. And I thought of all the restaurants where I would never go back again. That was my research.

4 Are the brothers problems meant to be seen in a wider context of Holland itself ?
No, I don’t think their situation applies particularly to Holland. More to Europe, or the ‘Western world’ in general. Although you will find some exaggerated political correctness in our country.

5 I have previously ask both Cees Nooteboom and Gerbrand Bakker to describe what makes Dutch literature so unique. What are your thoughts ?
I am not sure. We live in a rather boring and spoiled country. Maybe Dutch literature is only unique in that it wasn’t noticed in the past 200 years in the rest of the world.

6 What are you favourite Dutch books ?
For me there is only one, I think it has been translated into English: The Dark Room of Damocles by W.F. Hermans.

dlf-1 (1)

I put this up today as part of Iris on books Dutch Lit fortnight 

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Iris
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 16:31:09

    Love the question about his research for the menu 🙂

    And I’m kind of bummed he named The Dark Room of Damocles as I had just decided to be a little lazy and not read that particular book for this year. But I feel I kind of have to now.. I think Lizzy really liked it too.


    • lizzysiddal
      Jun 18, 2013 @ 11:45:03

      Lizzy loves The Dark Room of Damocles – it’s my favourite Dutch novel and definitely in my top 10 of all time.


  2. Guy Savage
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 18:54:26

    Thanks for taking the time to do this. The Dinner was one of the best books I read last year. I absolutely loved its nastiness and I would have guessed the Russian influence so it’s great to see that confirmed.


  3. farmlanebooks
    Jun 18, 2013 @ 14:07:25

    I hadn’t heard of The Dark Room of Damocles before, but it sounds great. I’m going to try and find a copy now!


  4. Trackback: Wrapping Up Dutch Lit Fortnight | Iris on Books
  5. Trackback: Some recent arrivals at Winston’s towers | Winstonsdad's Blog

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June 2013


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