by Herman Koch
published by Hogarth
A summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. 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 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, and as civility and friendship disintegrates, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love. (from Goodreads)
This is a book that (it seems) you either love or you hate. I can not say either.
The story starts simple enough- a two brother meeting for dinner with their wives. One brother is important and the other resentful. No one seems to be having a good time depute the obsequious efforts of the wait staff and the manager in particular. I started out liking the one brother-Paul-and his wife, until you realize he is an unreliable narrator. Halfway through the book, I felt like I was watching a train wreck in slow motion- the kind where you cannot look away. By the end, I honestly felt a bit ill. I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone who has not read it, but just want to say that I don’t have to like the characters, but when i feel like I loathe all of them, it is hard for me to enjoy a book. This was well written and has gotten many great reviews.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
3 out of 5- well written and satirical, but that is all i can give it.