Writersblog

Salomon Kroonenberg

Salomon Kroonenberg, Dutch writer

The Dutch programme at the International Book Fair in Beijing was cunn... >>> read more

Kai Kang

Kai Kang, Journalist China Reading Weekly

Dear Dutch publishers. The book fair is over. Perhaps you’ll now... >>> read more

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert, Dutch illustrators

The days are full and long. We are incessantly bombarded with impressi... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

Arriving on the stand on the first day, I’d asked a Chinese visi... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

Big excitement today since we were finally meeting with Songyu from Fl... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

The traffic in Beijing is horrendous, I’m sure the other blogger... >>> read more

Thomas Möhlmann

Thomas Möhlmann, Staff member Dutch Foundation for Literature

What an evening the poets and the approximately 200 onlookers present ... >>> read more

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert, Dutch illustrators

It’s now the third day, and the first one with plenty of sun. Un... >>> read more

Kai Kang

Kai Kang, Journalist China Reading Weekly

What a great opportunity to learn about the Dutch literature for Chine... >>> read more

Salomon Kroonenberg

Salomon Kroonenberg, Dutch writer

A duck flies to and fro over the vast expanses of world ocean, despera... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

‘In the era of browsing, we provide reading.’ - Slogan see... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

The jewel in the crown of our collection of Arbeiderspers titles publi... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

The Chinese publishers I have met during the course of my career, the ... >>> read more

Salomon Kroonenberg

Salomon Kroonenberg, Dutch writer

I have so far never been to a book fair. Nor do I know what to imagine... >>> read more

Kai Kang

Kai Kang, Journalist China Reading Weekly

Since 2006, I began writing about the Netherlands’ performance a... >>> read more

Henk Pröpper

Henk Pröpper, Director Dutch Foundation for Literature

Now that the fair is just round the corner, this is perhaps the moment... >>> read more

Henk Pröpper

Henk Pröpper, Director Dutch Foundation for Literature

In two weeks’ time, the official opening of one of the largest b... >>> read more

Ramsey Nasr

Ramsey Nasr, Dutch poet

Ramsey Nasr (b. 1974, Rotterdam) is a poet and author, actor and direc... >>> read more


Herman Koch

Herman Koch

  • Zhu Wen in conversation with Herman Koch
    Date: Fri 2 September Time: 03.30 pm Venue: BIBF
  • Café Amsterdam VI: Six revelations
    Date: Sun 4 September Time: 7:00 pm Venue: le Café, UCCA

Life and work

Herman Koch (b. 1953) made his debut with the story collection De voorbijganger (‘The Passer-by’, 1985) in which the protagonists are misunderstood loners struggling with their surroundings. His first novel, a huge success, was Red ons, Maria Montanelli (‘Save Us, Maria Montanelli’, 1989), a mixture of confession and tirade, in the style of Salinger, about a victim of Montessori education and the swank of South Amsterdam. In his subsequent novels he developed into an ironic-realistic writer relating dramas worth telling. His central characters are burdened by their empty existence, they feel unjustly treated and search for a way out either through other people’s stories (Eindelijk oorlog / ‘War At Last’, 1998), a temporary stay abroad (Eten met Emma / ‘Eating With Emma’, 2000) or dangerous friendship (Odessa Star, 2003). In Denken aan Bruce Kennedy (‘Thinking of Bruce Kennedy’, 2005) Koch found his form: the tragicomedy. Het diner (‘The Dinner’), published in 2009, is his most successful novel to date. This story of a father wanting the best for his child unfolds like a tightly directed family drama with black edges, in which at every turn a little more of the underlying reality is revealed. How far will the father go to protect his son after he finds out what terrible thing the boy has done.

Het diner

Four people. One dinner. An unavoidable decision. The story of a father wanting the best for his child unfolds like a tightly directed family drama with black edges, in which at every turn a little more of the underlying reality is revealed. How far will the father go to protect his son after he finds out what terrible thing the boy has done? Far, is the answer.

In the most congenial of settings, a sumptuous dinner for two brothers and their wives at a fashionable establishment in the capital, knives are sharpened. They are meeting to discuss what to do about their fifteen-year-old sons, partners in crime. During the diner the dissatisfactions and frustrations that have smouldered for years rise to the surface. Paul Lohman, a history teacher who’s taken early retirement, is full of aggression, both towards the restaurant with its pretentious food and service, and towards his brother, Serge Lohman, the popular politician whose ambition is to become premier of the Netherlands in the forthcoming elections.

With Het diner, which went straight to the top of the Dutch bestseller lists, Koch has hit the right note. His fast, lucid and tart style is perfectly tailored to the story’s telling. As he remarked in an interview about what his novels have in common: ‘If you can manage to capture the exact tone, you really already have the DNA of the whole book.’

Translation in Chinese

  • Koch, Herman. [Het diner] Chinese. Shanghai: Shanghai 99, in preparation.

Titles in NLF-database

Authors