The Dinner by Herman Koch

I can consider this one of the few messed up novels that amazed me by its darkness. Some of the other ones were Gone Girl and Dark Places, so I guess I do have to agree with the blurb from Wall street journal stating that this is a European Gone Girl.

This is one of those circumstances wherein I’m glad I didn’t listen to the bad reviews, and the low overall rating of the novel. Opinions vary, so stick with your gut. If the novel seems like something you’d enjoy, then don’t hesitate to give it a read.

Halfway through the novel I decided to consider this as the epitome of contemporary fiction, among all the novels that I’ve read so far. It’s weird how endless ramblings regarding random things in life kept my attention for more than 100+ pages. Palahniuk tried that style with me, but failed miserably. Koch on the other hand managed to make me like the novel even more because of the rambling. I cared about what he was trying to point out, and everything the main character said only made me like him better.

This novel, like I said, was messed up. If you’re not a fan of dark fiction, then I’d suggest you avoid this. It’s not gut-wrenching in the same way as some gore-y horror movies, but the outcome would make you question the sanity of the characters, or even the author himself. I’m a fan of out of norm fiction, so that means I don’t mind if the author tackles on topics that are profane and socially unacceptable. I’m not one to promote such activities, of course, because I’m against them, but writing about those doesn’t mean that the author automatically thinks that it’s supposed to be right.

The plot took a while for it to develop. Halfway through I honestly still didn’t know what was the main focus of the novel. The secret wasn’t revealed then and I was impatiently waiting for it to be discussed further. At first I thought that the novel was going to have a terrible plot because of its seemingly nonexistent development, but thankfully I was proven wrong.

The characters were the main reason why this novel was messed up. Let me add in the fact though that messed up doesn’t mean it was bad. I mean messed up in a positive way. Psychologically challenged characters are the best to read about, at least for me. Paul, Claire, Serge, and Babette were all amazing, and fully developed in the end. One or two of the four truly shocked me in the end of the novel. I didn’t expect them to develop the way they did but the author knew what he was doing.

4.5/5 stars. Why round it down? It’s because I needed more. The novel felt like it was cut short too early. The ending was not ambiguous, and I liked what happened in the end. It does feel like a European Gone Girl, so get ready for messed up to the tenth power. Highly recommended for psychological thriller fans, because this felt like a mixture of contemporary and psycho-thriller.


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