Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Herman Koch

Herman Koch is the author of The Dinner.

From his interview with Steve Inskeep:

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Congratulations on the novel.

HERMAN KOCH: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Let me say, in the best possible way, it made me sick.


KOCH: Really? OK.

INSKEEP: Well, I'm a parent, so, you know, you get into these issues. I assume that's what you intended, right? I mean, this is - you're going into some really, really personal, really edgy stuff here, aren't you?

KOCH: Yes, I am. And it's, of course, I must explain that I'm a parent myself. So the idea more or less came from there, just a feeling of what you would do to defend your children, but even in a very extreme case like is put forward in this novel.

INSKEEP: In this case - and we don't want to give away too much - but it's been said in reviews and you find within a few chapters that you have two sets of parents. They meet over dinner. They're discussing their sons, who appear to have videotaped themselves and been caught on security videotape doing something awful.

KOCH: You're right.

INSKEEP: And they discuss this all over dinner.

KOCH: Yes, they do. They go to this kind of luxury restaurant, but it's with organic food. And the clientele is very much politicians, artists, football players.

INSKEEP: And all along the way, you're learning what you imagine to be their values. They're talking about Sidney Poitier in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" They're talking about various gradations of racism. They're thinking, in some surface way, about being parents and what's important to them.

KOCH: Yes. And, of course, we learn most of the point of the views, also of the others, from Paul, one of the fathers, who's telling the whole story in first person. And we don't know in the beginning what he's like. Maybe we might even sympathize with him, up to a point. But then suddenly, not only his opinions, but maybe his actions are becoming more extreme. So we might start to doubt if the version he gives of what the other three adults at the table are telling us, or how they are, is really the...[read on, or listen to the interview]
--Marshal Zeringue