The Dinner, is being hailed as the European Gone Girl. It's a sad, misleading piece of marketing. Yes, the characters are depraved — but this has novel has none of the craft, fun, or inventiveness that made Gone Girl so awesome.
Indeed, the best way I can describe The Dinner is as a 300-page troll. The characters are despicable —so much so, it's almost as if Koch wrote this entirely to piss off his readers. He spends 300 pages just pressing your buttons at every turn, and he clearly knows he's doing it. His characters spout political nonsense and literally hit each other with frying pans, seemingly for the sole reason of making sure the reader will despise them. And that's all before "the decision," which is the whole point of the novel. But I don't want to spoil the ending, if for some reason, you decide to subject yourself to this steaming pile, as well.
The story is this: In Holland, two couples (the two men are brothers) meet at a fancy restaurant for dinner. We soon learn that their sons (cousins, obviously) have engaged in some sort of very bad behavior — though it's not until after page 100 that we find out what, exactly, they've done. So for the first third of the novel, we get to see them sitting and having appetizers and stuff. Snooze. On the plus side, I learned what an aperitif is.
The rest of the novel is dedicated to backstory about our narrator Paul. His brother (and dinnermate) Serge is the leading candidate to be the new prime minister of Holland, and so the decision will have ramifications beyond their little depraved family. But so the whole point is, what the heck are they going to do about the very bad thing their sons engaged in?
So, yes, The Dinner is a total dud — and not just a dud, a book I actively hated. I rarely take such a negative tone in writing about a book — even one I didn't like — because there's almost always something to like in a novel. Not here, and so I write as public service announcement, so maybe I can help prevent you from making the same mistake I did. (My only consolation is that I got this as an ebook from the library, so I didn't spend a red cent on this travesty of a novel.)