Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

Posted May 16, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 8 Comments

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman KochTitle: Summer House with Swimming Pool (Goodreads)
Author: Herman Koch
Translator: Sam Garrett
Published: Hogarth, 2014
Pages: 304
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: ARC from Netgalley

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(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Herman Koch has a unique ability for taking something that seems so normal and turning it into something much darker. If you’ve read his amazing novel The Dinner then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about; that book sets up a style that I was hoping continued for this Dutch author. Luckily I wasn’t disappointed; Koch’s second novel to be translated into English is Summer House with Swimming Pool. The novel tells the story of Dr Marc Schlosser who is forced to conceal a medical mistake that costs Ralph Meier, a famous actor, his life. The only problem with that is the truth doesn’t stay hidden for too long.

Fear not, much like The Dinner, Summer House with Swimming Pool is much more complex than it appears on the surface. Herman Koch likes to take a dark and graphic look at the world and raise the questions of morality, this is something seems to pull off effortlessly, but I will try to avoid giving spoilers. We spend most of the book following around the general practitioner who seems like an unsympathetic character and rather unlikeable. Koch likes to play with the idea that everything is not as it seems and this novel does this really well.

I can’t remember if I went into The Dinner with the same expectations as I did for Summer House with Swimming Pool but I suspect I might have had a similar reading experience. It is hard to review a novel like this because you want to talk about it but there is a voice in the back of your mind telling you not to spoil it for everyone else.

One thing that I find interesting with Koch’s novels is the number of characters and scenery. I thought this about The Dinner as well, these novels are perfect for a small stage production; they have just the right blend of dark satirical plot and moral questions to make for a thrilling stage play. I wonder if these books have been converted to the stage, I would love to see a production of The Dinner.

I’m rather annoyed with this review, there is so much I want to say but everything will say too much. You will all have to read this book so we can discuss it. Herman Koch’s books are perfect choices for a book club; there is just so much to discuss. I wonder if I can convince my local book club to do this book as well; they normally don’t like to do the same author too many times but Koch is too good to resist.


8 responses to “Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

  1. Violet

    It *is* really annoying to feel constrained and not want to include spoilers in a post. I struggle with that sometimes. There’s a fine line between TMI and wanting to write about specific points in a narrative. But, good on you for not spoiling it for others: I don’t read blogs that regurgitate the plot. I want to read the book for myself.

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