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Speaking Volumes to discuss Koch's 'The Dinner'

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In his book, The Dinner, Dutch writer Herman Koch creates a memorable narrator.

You can't help but sympathize with Paul Lohman. A loving husband and concerned parent, he and his wife, Claire, are apprehensive about meeting another couple for dinner where the topic of conversation is sure to be uncomfortable.

The other couple is Paul's brother, aspiring politician Serge, and his sister-in-law, the weepy Babette.

Their children, two 15-year-old boys, have committed a serious crime. No one knows they're guilty, except their parents, and they will discuss the situation over dinner in a restaurant where the food stands out for its high price, organic pedigree and small portions. The tension increases as the meal progresses, and the painstakingly detailed descriptions of each course antagonize both the diners and readers alike. As dessert is left melting on the table, Paul's true nature is revealed.

The Dinner, originally published in 2009, and translated by Sam Garrett, has been compared to Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. Although both books leave you guessing about who you can trust and end in stunning fashion, The Dinner serves its violence and treachery from a distance with a subtlety that's exquisitely creepy and cold. I loved it.

Sample the book and share your thoughts with the rest of the Speaking Volumes book discussion group on Sept. 4, when the selected title is The Dinner.

Speaking Volumes meets on the first Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at Old Worthington Library, 820 High St. New titles will be chosen this month for the rest of the year, so call 614-807-2626 to find out what will be featured during the group's Oct. 2 and Nov. 6 meetings.

Also held at Old Worthington Library are the last Thursday of the month meetings of the Thursday Morning Book Group; all start at 10:30 a.m.

This fall, participants will gather on Sept. 26, Oct. 24 and Nov. 21 to talk about chapters 21-40 of Fall of Giants by Ken Follett, Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan and In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, respectively.

The Northwest Passages book discussion group meets at Northwest Library, 2280 Hard Road, on the third Wednesday of the month at 10:30 a.m.

Fall selections include Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte on Sept. 18, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles Mann on Oct. 16 and 11/22/63 by Stephen King on Nov. 20.

Lisa Fuller is director of community engagement for Worthington Libraries.

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