Author

Herman Koch

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 surrounds. His first novel, a huge success, was Red ons, Maria Montenelli (Save Us, Maria Montenelli, 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.

Odessa Star

Odessa Star

(Anthos, 2003, 304 pages)

It’s a standard literary trope: an unremark­able man starts to fantasise about the gangster lifestyle, gets in with the wrong crowd and plunges himself into ruin. But in his fourth novel, Herman Koch presents his own twisted take on this familiar plotline: his protagonist Fred Moorman, stranded in a meaningless job and a joyless marriage is anything but a pitiful victim.

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Thinking of Bruce Kennedy

Thinking of Bruce Kennedy

(Anthos, 2006, 192 pages)

When it comes to protagonists, Herman Koch delights in dishing up men who have at least one screw loose. Thinking of Bruce Kennedy is different: the novel that directly preceded The Dinner centres on a female character who, in many respects, is perfectly normal.

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The Dinner

The Dinner

(Anthos, 2009, 301 pages)

Four people. One dinner. An unavoidable decision. The blurb for Herman Koch’s new novel sounds like a film trailer and the reader is not disappointed. 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.

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Summerhouse with Swimming Pool

Summerhouse with Swimming Pool

(Anthos, 2011, 381 pages)

Doctors are unassailable. Their patients, with all their secrets, are delivered up to them body and soul. Marc Schlosser, the central character in Herman Koch’s Summerhouse with Swimming Pool, is a family doctor to the rich and famous, and behind his mask of solicitude a heartless cynic.

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Dear Mr M.

Dear Mr M.

(Anthos, 2014, 430 pages)

Following his ruthless dissections of the hypocrisy of the moneyed classes and corruption in the medical profession, Herman Koch turns his dystopian gaze on the literary world. In his new novel, Dear Mr M. he tells the tale of a fading writer held grimly to account by a neighbour with a score to settle. Did Reckoning, the novel that cemented Mr M’s literary success all those years ago, culpably distort the facts of a mysterious missing persons case?

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Translated books