Days after my mom passed away, I was knee deep in raw emotion and looking for a distraction. I text Mary McCarthy, a trusted source in book recommendations. She said she was about to open The Dinner by Herman Koch and would I be interested in reading it together? I had heard from many others that this was a book to read, so I accepted and off we went.
The Dinner takes place, as the title states so obviously, over dinner. Seated at the table are two brothers, their wives, a crapload of emotional baggage and an emotionally unsolvable problem that needs an immediate solution.
The issue lies in the behavior and actions of their respective sons. The solution demands a walk through your darkest nightmare. Your child has done something that requires punishment, but is that punishment too harsh? Your kid is a good kid who just made one mistake. What if you knew he or she wouldn’t get caught? Would you help them hide it? Or? Should you turn them in yourself? That’s the right thing to do isn’t it? Would it ruin their soul to live with their actions?
The Dinner begins slowly, figuratively meandering down a summer cul de sac where kids are playing four square while their parents, red cups in hand, talk animatedly about all that is irrelevant in the world. Don’t be fooled. Just when you think you know where this book is going, it takes a swan dive into the darkest places of each character’s’ mind. No one will come out unscathed. You will find yourself looking back to the beginning and wondering how you read each character so wrong.
What would you do? How far are you willing to go? That is what you will be left with.
Read Mary’s review on SpliceToday.