The Ditch by Herman Koch, translation: Sam Garrett
(Pan MacMillan, 2019, 352 pages)
In the new novel by the author of the world-wide bestseller The Dinner, Herman Koch turns his brilliantly acid and forensic eye to the green-eyed monster: the all-too human emotion of jealousy.
Robert Walter, the popular mayor of Amsterdam, begins to suspect that his wife is cheating on him with one of his aldermen. Though he is happily married, he has always wondered why his wife, born and raised in a distant country, chose him above his brilliant and good-looking physicist friend Bernhard.
When, to add to his concerns, he becomes the subject of accusations relating to his past, at the same time his parents force him to address issues of their mortality. This apparently stable and successful man begins to become consumed by fantasies of jealousy and paranoia.
Or does he? Is Robert finally beginning to see the world – and his life – as they are, for the first time?
As page-turning and gripping as The Dinner, Koch’s new novel confronts us with questions that haunt us all. Who can we trust? Do we deserve our lives or owe them only to luck? And is it when we are depressed that we see the world most clearly?