Readable yet Disturbing

I recently read The Dinner and Euphoria, both absorbing and readable books but haunting at the same time.  Great fodder for conversation or a book club discussion.

The Dinner

This page-turner is a translated novel by the Dutch writer Herman Koch.  Koch takes youThe Dinner through a complex story theme in the timeframe of one dinner at an upscale restaurant in Amsterdam.  Two brothers and their wives are out to dinner.  One brother is a politician, the other is an unemployed history teacher.  There is sibling tension and a cultural chasm, but none of that compares to the nightmare brewing in the background.  Their children are involved in a horrific situation and the tension between the two families builds to a shocking conclusion.  It’s raw, harsh, disturbing and thought-provoking.  Typically I like more approachable characters and storylines, but I admit I couldn’t put this book down. Once done, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  “Unsettling” is the final analysis of the New York Times review.  I have to agree.


Euphoria This beautifully-written book by Lily King was inspired by Margaret Mead’s experiences in Samoa in the 1930s.  King’s story features three young anthropologists researching in New Guinea – a married couple and a colleague, of sorts, who is researching on his own.  There is the predictable love element. The characters are intricately developed. King’s brilliant descriptions of life in the jungle are so vivid they are almost tangible. But, throughout, there is a nagging undercurrent of violence and uneasiness, not just within the tribes. The ending left me stunned. Again, I couldn’t stop thinking about this book once I finished. It’s engaging and haunting.  New York Times review of Euphoria

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