By Melissa Maerz
Updated February 08, 2013 at 05:00 AM EST
  • Book

Do you love watching rich people destroy each other? Do you love it even more when they do it ever so classily, while dining on sweetbreads and champagne? Well, then, unfold your napkin and prepare to relish The Dinner, which has sold more than a million copies in 25 countries. A Dutch social satire that unfolds course by course, from “Aperitif” to “Dessert,” the story begins as Paul, our acid-tongued narrator, meets his brother Serge, a famous politician, for a little chat at one of the finest restaurants in Amsterdam. Once the vitello tonnato has been ordered, and the goat cheese certified urban-farm fresh, they’ll join their wives for small talk before working their way toward the real reason they’re here: Both couples’ children are involved in an unfortunate incident that threatens to derail their careers. By the time dessert arrives, all four adults are ready to kill one another. If this sounds like a follow-up to Yasmina Reza’s dark yuppie play God of Carnage, that’s because they share a central question: How far should parents go to defend their vile brats? But Koch’s novel offers a much bleaker response: Maybe those parents are doomed to raise little sociopaths, just by giving birth. To explain that further would spoil the ending, which doesn’t totally work. As for the brutal comedy of manners that comes beforehand? You’ll eat it up, with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. A-

The Dinner

  • Book
  • Herman Koch
  • Hogarth