Reading The Lowest Rated Book on my Goodreads ‘TBR’ #2: Reviewing The Dinner by Herman Koch

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

Welcome back to the second blog post in this series of reading the books on my Goodreads ‘to be read’ list which are curiously low.

The Book

I hadn’t heard of The Dinner by Herman Koch at all, until I came across a post on social media by Stephen King, who recommended it. Coincidentally, I found a copy in a charity shop a few weeks later.

The Dinner has an average rating of 3.22 on Goodreads, a score formed from more than 100,000 star ratings and around 16,000 reviews. It strikes me as a book which readers either love or loathe – I have no idea why this is, and that’s what I’m going to find out.

The Review

The Dinner is about two couples who meet at a restaurant for dinner. Polite, fashionable conversation masks the couples’ true intentions for meeting. Their teenage sons have committed a serious crime. The subsequent police investigation threatens to ruin their lives and reputations forever. Each couple is determined to protect their own child, whatever the cost.

My Photo [The Dinner].jpg

I didn’t get The Dinner.*

* Ironically, nobody eats much dinner at all because everyone keeps leaving the table to whisper to one another, take secret calls, or have private arguments. 

In my opinion, the book was trying to be dark and mysterious, without actually being dark and mysterious. None of the characters were dark, or mysterious, or manipulative. They weren’t likeable, dislikable, or interesting. They just were.

I had read half of The Dinner before the plot really begins – i.e. their sons’ crime is revealed – and, given the amount of build-up I’d read through to get to this point, I was underwhelmed when I finally found out. Again, this book could have been much darker.

I found myself waiting for more to happen, or for the writing to amaze me. Instead, I just found myself getting bored.

My overall impression of The Dinner is confusing, underwhelming and, dare I say it, dull.

The question is: was I underwhelmed because I knew the book was given a low rating in advance, or is it genuinely just not my cup of tea?

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Have you read The Dinner? What did you think? If not, would you be inspired to read it for yourself?

– Judith

One thought on “Reading The Lowest Rated Book on my Goodreads ‘TBR’ #2: Reviewing The Dinner by Herman Koch

  1. ‘Underwhelmed’ is a pretty damning assessment of this novel, Judith, and it seems unlikely I’d ever get around to it; but I’m intrigued Stephen King rated it — I wonder what he saw in it that many others haven’t?

    Liked by 1 person

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