Two couples meet for dinner at a very expensive and posh restaurant in Amsterdam. The two men are brothers, although they don’t have very brotherly feelings for each other (Perhaps this is quite normal). Serge is very successful and likely to become the prime minister, but his brother Paul detests him. He is a high school teacher and thinks himself superior.
As well as not liking his brother he doesn’t like fancy restaurants. In this restaurant each course consists of a minute portion with a fancy name, and his irritation grows with the arrival of each one: “Greek olives from the Peloponnese, lightly doused in first-pressing, extra-virgin olive oil from Sardinia, and polished off with rosemary home-grown in a glassed-in herbarium”; “fillet of guinea fowl wrapped in paper-thin sliced German bacon and grapes on a deep purple piece of lettuce” and so on. Serge and Babette arrive late, just as Paul expects them to do, as he thinks this is typical of a man who likes to be the centre of attention.
In the middle of the dinner, the really juicy story begins. Each couple has a teenage child (or more) and we find out what the children have been up to. The novel presents the characters with a moral dilemma which exposes each persons true nature.
The mood is tense and uncomfortable and there is a feeling that something is going to explode at any moment. This is a great read that makes us reflect on what would we do in their place as parents.
Title: The Dinner
Author: Herman Koch
- Ana, Central City Library