The Dinner is a 2009 book by Dutch author Herman Koch, translated into English and published in the U.S.A. in 2013. It's been adapted for film, but I haven't seen the movie. The book takes place in the summer. There are no likable characters here, from children to adults. They are ugly, self-centered, vile, and dangerous people. And that's during dinner at a fancy restaurant. I found it fascinating, a look at what people are willing to do to protect the lives they think they are living.
from the back of the book:
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 scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. 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.The New York Times says, "The success of “The Dinner” depends, in part, on the carefully calibrated revelations of its unreliable and increasingly unsettling narrator, Paul Lohman. Whatever else he may be, likable he is not" and calls it "absorbing and highly readable". The Guardian says it's "a well-paced and entertaining novel". NPR concludes, "The best part about The Dinner was this tension taking place above the plates. As the meal wore on, I realized I couldn't get up from the table."
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, and as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.
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.