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The DinnerThe Dinner by Herman Koch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an unusual book that accomplished A LOT. I have to admit, when I was about 1/3 of the way into it, I started getting antsy. I stopped reading for a while, so my time between reading the first 1/3 or so and the rest was quite chunked. Why did I stop for a while? In my opinion and for my taste, there was too little “cashing in” on the tension that was built so high so quickly. Without much being revealed, even just a little at a time, I started to feel like I was reading a game of chess that was going on and on and on…with pawns only, no big players. I didn’t like that too much—that’s the reason I took off a star, because I almost DNF.

However, when I picked up the book again, hoping something more would come of the tension between the two brothers, slowly the author started to finally throw us a bone. And the bone turned out to be a rolling, snowballing avalanche of reveals. Very worth the wait, so be patient with this one!

One of the things I love about this book is how it deals with societal issues and mental health challenges. You see more than one perspective on serious issues of societal ills committed, and the perspective you see most deeply isn’t necessarily one you’d naturally agree with. That’s what’s so great about it, plus when you are handed the perspective that most people would take, it’s not for the right reasons, so again, you’re seeing from an unusual perspective. As for mental health, this book has Deep POV that is used brilliantly to see what it’s like to be inside these particular mental health challenges instead of the author trying to explain it. This is THE BEST job I’ve seen so far with that.

The way the author uses food, what’s ordered, how it’s ordered, and the main character’s interpretation of it all is truly great as a constant metaphor and a way of defining characters symbolically. I’ve seen food used to metaphorically define relationships and people, but since this dinner takes up the whole book (excluding flashbacks), it’s really something unique and special.

I do recommend reading this book, and just be patient, because as I said, once the reveals start, they are really intense!

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