Herman Koch

Koch's Fiction Favorites

Book Cover Image. Title: The Dinner, Author: Herman Koch

The Dinner

Herman Koch

An international bestseller, Herman Koch's sly psychological thriller The Dinner -- his sixth novel, but the first made available in this country -- has been translated into 24 languages, and sold over a million copies in Europe. While Koch himself takes exception to the "thriller" label, he has written a taut masterpiece of literary suspense narrated by a deeply misanthropic but also irresistible character who grabs you on page 1, and doesn't let go until his of tale of crime and family loyalty is through. Discover some of the books that have inspired him below. 

Herman Koch

Herman Koch

Book Cover Image. Title: Dear Life, Author: Alice Munro

Dear Life

Alice Munro

Sometimes I read a few pages of an Alice Munro story in the morning, just to get started. Like taking a strong double espresso at 8 am, this is the effect her sentences have on me. After two or three paragraphs I want to start writing myself, but after a third paragraph I can't stop reading: now I have to read the story till the end. Another working day down the drain. Her style seems almost too natural, but it isn't. It reads natural, which is a completely different thing. Buy Now

Book Cover Image. Title: My Struggle, Book One, Author: Karl Ove Knausgaard

My Struggle, Book One

Karl Ove KnausgaardDon Bartlett

A so-called Natural Born Writer. Knausgard writes about the death of his alcoholic father. This is a hundred percent autobiographic novel, but a novel that is very difficult to put down. He is cleaning the house of his recently deceased father, and this cleaning goes on for many pages without getting boring for a single moment. You realize he is performing a ritual. He tries to get rid of a lot of demons at the same time, scrubbing and mopping, and flushing them down the toilet. This is only Book One of a cycle that spans six books (total length about 3000 pages, written in less than three years). After Book One you will feel terrible, having to wait for some time until Book Two will be translated. Buy Now

Book Cover Image. Title: The Marriage Plot, Author: Jeffrey Eugenides

The Marriage Plot

Jeffrey Eugenides

One of my favorite writers. Every one of his three books published so far made me wonder if I should write (or at least publish) less myself. Just write one brilliant book every nine years, no in-betweens, no half-brilliant books that you discard later as nice tries. At the start, Eugenides' first book was his best (of course), then his second, now his third. Will he ever make a mistake in the future? So that we can say: "I don't know, with his fourth book, he lost it somewhere. I still prefer The Marriage Plot…" I don't think this will happen. It is only the nine years waiting time that bothers me. Buy Now

Book Cover Image. Title: Gone Girl, Author: Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

Gillian Flynn

I am not too fond of thrillers where some drug-addicted, alcoholic investigator is trying to solve a murder. In the end it is always the suspect you least suspected -- this is the new formula of thriller writing. But Gone Girl is something completely different. It is a literary novel with loads of suspense. With wicked characters you can never fully dislike. But yes: characters with a lot of wickedness (and madness) in them, with bad habits that almost seem like our own. I must admit that I started to suspect something at page 50 -- but I was proved wrong. Buy Now

Book Cover Image. Title: Matterhorn:  A Novel of the Vietnam War, Author: Karl Marlantes

Matterhorn

Karl Marlantes

I was a teenager during the Vietnam War, so the images on television and in magazines (some of them full color, some in black and white) have always stayed with me. But this is a book written from the inside, the real inside, not the embedded version. I suffered with lieutenant (later captain) Mellas' platoon, as if I was there, waiting for the invisible enemy lying in ambush. I took part in anti-war protests but, while reading this book, I was hoping (even praying) that they would all survive and come home safely. Buy Now

Book Cover Image. Title: Tenth of December, Author: George Saunders

Tenth of December

George Saunders

I always cheer when a short story collection becomes a bestseller -- and it looks like it is happening right now with this wonderful book. I admire a writer who can find so many different voices for each story. A writer who is not afraid of the almost surreal, who is certainly not afraid of a story that is not even two pages long -- but a story I have reread already half a dozen times. Personally, short stories are always more inspiring than 500-page novels: because the original idea is not spread out, like in a novel. After two pages (or after six or twenty), you can lay the idea to rest in your mind -- and immediately be inspired by the next one. Buy Now

Book Cover Image. Title: The Beginner's Goodbye:  A Novel, Author: Anne Tyler

The Beginner's Goodbye

Anne Tyler

Ann Tyler has already written a lot of classics and I enjoyed every single one of them. You can feel the deep sympathy the writer feels for her characters, although not all her characters are that sympathetic. They are always far from perfect, and in this novel, you become aware of a character's defects after a few chapters, simply because the narrator doesn't tell us -- or better said, doesn't want to tell us right away. I lost this book on a flight, so I had to buy it again the next day, then I gave it away to one of my best friends -- a friend with whom I share my unconditional love for this wonderful writer and every single book she wrote. Buy Now