The Dinner – Herman Koch


“If I had to give a definition of happiness, it would be this: happiness needs nothing but itself; it doesn’t have to be validated. ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’ is the opening sentence of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.  All I could hope to add to that is that unhappy families – and within those families, in particular the unhappy husband and wife – can never get by on their own.  The more validators, the merrier.  Unhappiness loves company.  Unhappiness can’t stand silence – especially not the uneasy silence that settles in when it is all alone.”

I’m in a book club, and when the book club first started, this was one of the first picks – I, however, was in Peru and so missed that edition of book club.  And, I might add, I would choose Peru over this book, a thousand times over, any day.

The Dinner has taught me that some people are STRAIGHT FUCKED UP.  I went into this book expecting a God of Carnage-type plot, which was a play turned into a movie.  In God of Carnage, two couples meet at one’s apartment to discuss a fight that their children had in the schoolyard, and what starts as a civilized conversation turns into a complete unravelling of their marital and parental lives.  The Dinner took it a little bit further, because what these people’s children did is a MILLION TIMES WORSE than a schoolyard fight.  And that there’s even some semblance that what they did is JUSTIFIED in some sense is completely infuriating.

People be messed up.  Read this book if you want to read about some seriously messed-up people (with a particularly intriguing narrator, at least).

 Books read: 16


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