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“The Dinner”: The Dutch answer to “Gone Girl”? Maybe not, but no less thrilling

Like many modern people -- especially the fictional ones who serve as the narrators of novels -- Paul Lohman is nettled by newfangled affectations, particularly those of posh, trendy restaurants and their habitues. In an irritable, self-righteous tone familiar to anyone who reads Internet comments threads, he snarks about the place his brother has picked for the meal that gives Herman Koch's novel, "The Dinner," its title. Restaurants are not the only thing that gets on Paul's nerves. While he and his wife, Claire, wait for Serge and his wife, Babette, to show up, Paul ruminates on the humiliations inherent in shaving: If you do it before a meeting, you betray overeagerness, but if you don't you seem lazy or even sickly. "No matter what you do, you're not free."

Also on the list of things that bug Paul: the waiter's insistence on elaborately recounting the provenance of every item they order ("Did you notice how he points with his pinky all the time?" Paul hisses to Claire), the "yawning chasm between the dish itself and the price you have to pay for it," and the "vast emptiness" of the plates when they arrive bearing their dainty portions of food.

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