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Author: Herman Koch
Narrator: Clive Mantel
Unabridged Length: 8h 59m
Published by: AudioGo, 2013
Genres: Adult Fiction, Literary
My Rating: ✮✮
It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse--the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened. Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love. Tautly written, incredibly gripping, and told by an unforgettable narrator, The Dinner promises to be the topic of countless dinner party debates. Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.
Let me start by saying that this book epitomizes dysfunctional families! It is definitely a different type of story than has ever been written before. It is deep with emotions between siblings and their families.
I did have a difficult time beginning this book, but once I got into, it's like knowing a train wreck is about to happen, but yet you just can't cover your eyes, you have to keep watching to see for yourself what happens! The story did seem to jump all over the place a bit too much for my liking, without much notice, so I found myself questions exactly which time frame I was listening to at the time.
The main characters were deeply emotional brother's, one who is sick and tired of the other's rooty tooty, better art than thou attitude, and makes his feelings quite apparent. Let me tell you, this is no family dinner that I would want to be a part of! The interesting part is the deep connection between the husband and wife, Paul and Claire, and their willingness to support each other, no matter what!
I listened to the audio version of this book, and at the beginning, as an American, I had a difficult time with the accent of the narrator, Clive Mantel, but once I got used to it, he was a phenomenal narrator. He certainly did Paul justice, and was able to precisely exhibit Paul's emotions throughout the entire book. He even did an exquisite job of portraying the women, comically so with Babette (who I felt he was slightly mocking, which made it even more funny!)
Overall, I gave this book 2 out of 5 stars, because it was hard to follow and all over the place, which distracted me from the story at hand. However, it was a book that once you started, you wanted to just keep listening to see what was going to happen!
This Audio CD was provided to me by http://www.audiogo.com/us/, courtesy of http://www.audiobookjukebox.com, in return for an honest and unbiased review. (Posted on June 15, 2013)
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Likely
The Dinner / Herman Koch
"Already a runaway hit throughout Europe, boasting more than a million copies sold, Koch’s sixth novel arrives stateside, giving readers here a chance to mull over some rather meaty moral quandaries… Koch’s organic style makes for a continuously engaging read that, if anything, leaves readers wanting more. Another 100 pages or so exploring these issues further would have been more than welcome, but what is here will no doubt stir some heady debates." ~Booklist (Casey Bayer)
"Already a best seller in Europe, Herman Koch's The Dinner was at the center of a U.S. bidding war before being picked up by the Crown publishing group. Amazon, Barnes & Noble and independent booksellers are lifting the book's profile by naming it a favorite February pick. And whether you categorize The Dinner as literary fiction, crime or mystery novel, it's got a jacket blurb from Gillian Flynn whose Gone Girl is another genre -bending novel. The Dinner is the sixth of Koch's seven novels, but the first to be translated into English. As with the works of other internationally celebrated writers including Stieg Larsson, Camilla Lackberg, Jo Nesbo and Oliver Potzsch, American readers may demand access to all of Koch's books. If they're half as good as The Dinner, we'll want to devour all of them." 4 out of 4 Stars ~USA Today
"Do you love watching rich people destroy each other? Do you love it even more when they do it ever so classily, while dining on sweetbreads and champagne? Well, then, unfold your napkin and prepare to relish The Dinner, which has sold more than a million copies in 25 countries. A Dutch social satire that unfolds course by course, from "Aperitif" to "Dessert," the story begins as Paul, our acid-tongued narrator, meets his brother Serge, a famous politician, for a little chat at one of the finest restaurants in Amsterdam. Once the vitello tonnato has been ordered, and the goat cheese certified urban-farm fresh, they'll join their wives for small talk before working their way toward the real reason they're here: Both couples' children are involved in an unfortunate incident that threatens to derail their careers. By the time dessert arrives, all four adults are ready to kill one another. If this sounds like a follow-up to Yasmina Reza's dark yuppie play God of Carnage, that's because they share a central question: How far should parents go to defend their vile brats? But Koch's novel offers a much bleaker response: Maybe those parents are doomed to raise little sociopaths, just by giving birth. To explain that further would spoil the ending, which doesn't totally work. As for the brutal comedy of manners that comes beforehand? You'll eat it up, with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. A-" ~Entertainment Weekly
“Narrator Clive Mantle skillfully delivers the story of two brothers, Paul and Serge, and their wives, Claire and Babette, as they dine in a swanky Amsterdam restaurant. From the perspective of Paul, we learn that the couples are grappling with how to handle a horrific act committed by their 15-year-old sons. The situation is complicated by the fact that Serge is a politician. Mantle portrays the individuality of each spouse and captures the tensions surrounding this family crisis. Descriptions of the dining experience and tangential backstories keep listeners in suspense about the malevolent deed for the first three hours of the book. While potentially tiresome in print, this part of the story is made engaging for listeners by the narration. Mantle's delivery elevates the plot twists, moral dilemmas, and family relationships, making this a feast worth attending.” Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award ~AudioFile (K.C.R.)