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Translated by Sam Garrett
I played the scene back about ten times in my mind. First from start to finish, then from finish to start. In slow motion. Frame by frame. I tried to stop the action at the moment when my wife looked from me to the alderman. I corrected myself: avoided looking at the alderman.
Robert Walter, popular mayor of Amsterdam, suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then Robert’s elderly parents tell him that they’re planning to end their lives. His father hints that it will be sooner rather than later, but he won’t say when.
Alarmed, Robert starts to doubt himself and everyone around him, lost in increasingly panicked and paranoid trains of thought. But is it paranoia? Or is he actually seeing things clearly for the very first time?
The Ditch shows how quickly even the most stable lives can be sabotaged by secrecy and suspicion—and humans’ masochistic urge to undermine ourselves.
‘Herman Koch is rapidly becoming one of my favourite writers. His three novels, taken together, are like a killer EP where every track kicks ass.’
‘Chilling, nasty, smart, shocking and unputdownable.’
‘The Dinner is a riveting, compelling and deliciously uncomfortable read… both a punch to the guts and…a tonic. It clears the air. A wonderful book.’
‘Blackly funny, full of sharp edges and hot issues, and compulsively readable. Verdict: feast on this.’
‘The Dinner is a masterful, disturbing piece of theatre.’