Author: Herman Koch

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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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.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

Posted September 13, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime, Literary Fiction / 0 Comments

The Dinner by Herman KochTitle: The Dinner (Goodreads)
Author: Herman Koch
Translator: Sam Garrett
Published: Text, 2012
Pages: 309
Genres: Crime, Literary Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

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(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Paul and Claire are going out to dinner with Paul’s brother and his wife. The reason for this isn’t the usual family get together, this time they have something important to discuss; their children. The characters, the overpriced restaurant and the secret is what makes The Dinner by Herman Koch this novel live up to the hype. This satirical book was already a best seller but until only recently this book was never available in English. 

I have to admit I was really looking forward to reading this book for my local book club; but what I was getting into, I really didn’t know. The Dinner is dark elegant book that takes you on a journey with some very unexpected twists. At first glance this book felt like a very light and easy read and you will plow through this book so quickly that when something unexpected happens you won’t see it coming. The characters in the book seem very real and Paul’s brother and his wife remind me a lot of characters from a Bret Easton Ellis book; they are charismatic and ambitious but feel very shallow nihilists. 

The restaurant was a brilliant backdrop for this book; it was one of those places you need to book months in advance and Paul’s brother Serge thought it sport to try and book a table for the same day. Fine dining at a pretentious restaurant really felt like the perfect location for the explosive events in this book, you get the sense that everyone should act calm and composed in a place like this but what’s happened doesn’t really go hand in hand with calm or composed. 

I was really pleased with this book, I love the dark and satirical nature of the plot mixed with the fine dining experience, they come together to make a thrilling read. The Dinner is full of mayhem and you will be shocked with every course been served but there is so much more in this book, the characters are real and it will question your thoughts of the best way to raise your children. The thought provoking elements remind me of Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap and this book finds the balance between mystery and family drama. A well developed novel that I highly recommend people read