Monday, March 18, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Dinner

The Dinner 
Author: Herman Koch
Narrator: Clive Mantle
Translator: Sam Garrett
Length: 8 hours, 59 minutes
Publisher: AudioGo Ltd 
Release date: 2/12/13

Publisher's Summary:
 It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse--the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened. Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love. Tautly written, incredibly gripping, and told by an unforgettable narrator, The Dinner promises to be the topic of countless dinner party debates. Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

My Thoughts:
This book was disturbing but gripping.  Time flew so fast I could hardly believe that it was nearly nine hours long.  I could not put it down and wished there was more when it ended.  The story is told through the eyes of Paul Lohman who seems at first to be an ordinary parent concerned about his son.   Paul's brother Serge, a well-known politician, has a son the same age and the boys have done something horrible.  The brothers and their wives get together for dinner in order to discuss and decide what to do about it. What should a parent do when their child has committed a crime? Cover it up? Turn them in? What will be the decision at the end of the dinner?  It would be awful as a parent to be faced with a decision like this.  I felt a little queasy hearing about the crime as Paul revealed it, bit by bit.  I saw the kids as monsters and at the same time sympathized with the parents.  My sympathy did not last until the surprise ending but my interest certainly did.  

I'm sure I would find the printed version of The Dinner a little tedious but Clive Mantle's performance made it come alive for me.  His expressive voice let me hear Paul's disdain for his brother, the disapproval of the pretentious restaurant chosen by his brother, and love for his wife and son.  This was my first experience hearing Clive Mantle perform.  I'm adding him to my list of favorite narrators.  

Review copy provided by AudioGo.