, by Herman Koch, promises to be an interesting sort of evening. We are invited to pull up a chair beside Paul whom his fifteen-year-old son, Michel, affectionately refers to as "Sweet Old Papa" and join him for dinner. He needs our support, you see, for this is a meal he's dreading.
Paul is an ordinary manhe's one of us. All he wants is a simple quiet meal, alone with his beloved wife, Claire. But they are having dinner with Serge, Paul's arrogant brother and Babette, Serge's wife. It's bad enough that his brother picked the restaurantan upscale overdone place with an elitist atmosphere. As a currently unemployed school teacher, Paul notices the excessive cost of each item on the menu. To make things worse, Serge and Babette arrive predictably late. Paul and Claire watch as the restaurant staff fuss over...
Beyond the Book
Early on in The Dinner
, we discover the reason Paul and Claire are meeting Serge and Babette for dinner: they are to discuss a problem facing their children, Michel and Rick. We know the boys have done something wrong. Then Paul mentions a genetic test that could—through amniocentesis—identify a mysterious and unnamed condition that might predict an individual's tendency toward violence. It made me wonder if such a test really exists. And, if so, what would a parent do with that information?
The birth of a child is usually a moment of great joy. The parents are filled with anticipation for the future, with hopes and dreams. Great expectations abound. But, if a parent knew his infant—a perfect, sweet-smelling bundle of joy—would grow up to perform...