January 9, 2014

The Dinner

by Herman Koch

This interesting Dutch novel returns us to that modernly post-modern realm, the unreliable narrator. Our narrator here is both unreliable and unlikable, and he is determined not to enjoy the family dinner which is the entire compass of the novel. He does not like his brother, he will not like the pretentious Dutch restaurant, he will hate the check which his is determined to pick up.

The narrator’s brother is a prominent Dutch politician who will soon begin an important campaign. Two couples meet to enjoy a nice dinner, and perhaps to discuss the problems of their teenage boys. The narrator thinks that this dinner will mark the end of a happy family, happy like all other happy families, because his family is in fact becoming unhappy in its own distinctive way. He is not wrong.