Books by Herman Koch

  • Easy Living

    Herman Koch

    | Fiction | This book has 90 pages

    March 2017

    Rights sold: Neri Pozza (Italy)


    Tom Sanders is a celebrated writer of self-help books. His bestsellers “Crime Without Frontiers” and “Easy Living” have sold more than forty million copies worldwide. He leads an extremely comfortable life, is happily married to Julia, and has two grown-up sons, the youngest of whom, Stefan, is the apple of his eye. Suddenly, during a birthday party for Julia, their daughter-in-law Hanna – of whom Tom and Julia are not particularly fond – turns up at the door. Sobbing, she says that Stefan has beaten her – and that this is not the first time.

    Should Tom tackle his favourite son about his behaviour? Or would it perhaps be better to put the advice from his self-help books into practice, such as his famous precept ‘Try not to solve problems by thinking about them; often they are sooner solved by not thinking about them’?

    Easy Living shows brilliantly how a man who is so successful with his insights on life must suddenly pull out all the stops in order to face up to the problems in his own life. The book is only 90 pages, but in that short amount of space Koch succeeds in creating an image of a writer who understands how to deal with life. Or preferably, how not to deal with it: the art of waiting it out.

    Press on Easy Living:
    ‘From the second line, “You must have heard of me”, you wish him the worst. The reader soon starts to hope for the know-it-all’s downfall, but Koch takes his time to satisfy that desire.’ – De Volkskrant

    ‘Should Tom Sanders disregard his own advice? Or should he tackle his son about his behaviour? That is the central dilemma in Easy Living, and Koch gets a devilish kick out of making Tom Sanders vacillate between these two options, and gets an even greater kick out of pushing him into a corner.’ – Het Parool

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  • The Ditch

    Herman Koch

    | Fiction | This book has 320 pages

    * English sample translation + synopsis *

    Rights sold: KiWi (Germany), Hogarth (US), Picador (UK), Text (Australia), Siltala (Finland), Neri Pozza (Italy), Salamandra (Spain), Baltos Lankos (Lithuania), Art People (Denmark) and Editions Belfond (France)

    November 2014

    When Robert Walter, popular mayor of Amsterdam, sees his wife toss her head back in laughter while chatting to one of his aldermen at a New Year’s reception, he immediately suspects the worst. Despite their long and happy marriage, Robert is convinced that Sylvia is cheating on him – and with the straitlaced alderman, no less, who is committed to the environment and wants to spoil the capital’s skyline with wind turbines.

    Soon afterwards, a journalist produces a photograph of a police officer being beaten up by three protesters during a demonstration against the Vietnam war. She claims that the mayor is one of the protesters. Then, out of the blue, Robert’s 94-year-old father turns up on the steps of the city hall, desperate to speak to him. He and his wife want to die together. They do not want to burden their son with their deteriorating health, so why not end their own lives when the time is right?

    The Ditch shows how a seemingly stable man can quickly become increasingly entangled in his own fears and suspicions. Or is everything not what it seems, and is Robert Walter actually seeing things clearly the very first time?

    Press on The Ditch:
    ‘Herman Koch shows brilliantly how you can see things that might not be there at all, how your imagination can run away with you. The Ditch is an ode to the imagination.’ – **** Het Parool

    ‘Herman Koch, the best selling postwar Dutch writer, shows yet again why he is the master of suspense and open endings.’ – **** HUMO

    ‘Koch has hardly skimped on reading pleasure and his style is unfussily precise as usual.’ – De Morgen

    ‘Koch has mastered his métier with effortless superiority. Inventive, deceptively clear and full of friction. A publisher’s promise has rarely been so fully delivered.’ – **** De Volkskrant


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  • Dear Mr M.

    Herman Koch

    | Fiction | This book has 512 pages

    May 2014

    ∗ full English, French & German translation *

    Rights sold: Picador (UK), Hogarth (USA), Text (ANZ), Kiepenheuer & Witsch (Germany), Belfond (France), Neri Pozza (Italy), Salamandra (Spain/Castilian), Ara Llibres (Spain/Catalan), Siltala (Finland), Keter (Israel), Colibri (Bulgaria), Barrister & Principal (Czech Republic), Európa Könyvkiadó (Hungary), Azbooka-Atticus Publishing Group (Russia).

    The once celebrated writer M. had his greatest success with a novel about the notorious disappearance of Jan Landzaat. This history teacher disappeared after a brief affair with a stunning pupil, and was last seen at the holiday cottage where she was staying with her new boyfriend. The novel was a bestseller and marked M.’s international breakthrough, but now, at the end of his career, he is fading increasingly into obscurity. But not when it comes to his mysterious downstairs neighbour, who keeps a close eye on M. What does he have to do with the disappearance case?

    From various perspectives, Herman Koch tells the intriguing story of a writer in decline, a teenage couple in love and a missing teacher. Thanks to the bestseller, their fate seems to be linked forever. Dear Mr. M. is a magnificent novel about jealousy and envy, friendship and love. With his world-renowned sharp eye, Herman Koch once again spares nothing and no one.

    Press on Dear Mr M.:

    ‘The writing is crystal clear and unpretentious, typically Koch!’ – NRC Handelsblad

    ‘It is not just a page-turner, there are also plenty of belly laughs to be had.’ –  Het Parool

    Dear Mr. M. fulfils the promise of a long-awaited new Koch after only a few pages.’ –  Vrij Nederland

    ‘Koch’s latest novel once again demonstrates his talent, skills and sheer guts.’ [4½ stars!] – De Morgen

     ‘The 2014 Summer Special. Dear Mr M. has everything, excitement, humor, aggravation, emotions; its style and structure are nothing short of perfect.’ –  De Limburger

    ‘Koch records the events with his renowned sense of humour and momentum.’ –  Algemeen Dagblad

    ‘Koch demonstrates his great narrative talent.’ –  De Telegraaf

    ‘Koch has mastered all the tricks. He is the master of variety, balance and subtle cliff-hangers. […] Plot-driven is an understatement: Koch cracks the whip to the very end.’ – BOEK

    Dear Mr. M. comes very close to perfection.’ – De Standaard

    ‘Tense, ingeniously constructed novel by a chuckling writer.’ –  ZIN

    ‘Extremely clever plot and thoroughly witty.’ – Humo

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  • Summer House with Swimming Pool

    Herman Koch

    | Fiction | This book has 381 pages

    January 2011

    * full English, German & French translation *

    Rights sold: Atlantic (UK), Hogarth (USA), Text (ANZ), Kiepenheuer & Witsch (Germany), Belfond (France), Neri Pozza (Italy), Salamandra (Spain/Castilian), Ara Llibres (Spain/Catalan), Siltala (Finland), Keter (Israel), Colibri (Bulgaria), Barrister & Principal (Czech Republic), Európa Könyvkiadó (Hungary), Azbooka-Atticus Publishing Group (Russia), Forlagid (Iceland), Pax (Norway), Shanghai 99 (China), Dogan (Turkey), Protea (South-Africa), Metaixmio (Greece), Eunhaeng Namu (Korea), Penguin Random House (Portugal), Znanje (Croatia), Al Arabia (Egypt), Intrínseca (Brazil), Media Rodzina (Poland), Crown (Taiwan), Baltos Lankos (Lithuania).

    When a medical procedure goes horribly wrong and famous actor Ralph Meier winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser needs to come up with some answers. After all, reputation is everything in this business. Personally, he’s not exactly upset that Ralph is gone, but as a high profile doctor to the stars, Marc can’t hide from the truth forever.

    It all started the previous summer. Marc, his wife, and their two beautiful teenage daughters agreed to spend a week at the Meier’s extravagant summer home on the Mediterranean. Joined by Ralph and his striking wife Judith, her mother, and film director Stanley Forbes and his much younger girlfriend, the large group settles in for days of sunshine, wine tasting, and trips to the beach. But when a violent incident disrupts the idyll, darker motivations are revealed, and suddenly no one can be trusted. As the ultimate holiday soon turns into a nightmare, the circumstances surrounding Ralph’s later death begin to reveal the disturbing reality behind that summer’s tragedy.

    Featuring the razor-sharp humor and acute psychological insight that made The Dinner an international phenomenon, Summer House with Swimming Pool is a controversial, thought-provoking novel that showcases Herman Koch at his finest.

    Press on Summer House with Swimming Pool:

    ‘Herman Koch is a successful actor and screenwriter in his native Netherlands, with a chilly yet psychologically sharp writing style which made his previous novel, The Dinner, a surprise international hit. I’m pretty sure this one will go the same way.’ –  Australian Women’s Weekly

    ‘The ending is tantalisingly ambiguous. What is clear is that Schlosser, with his scepticism and suspicion, has built his own dark universe. A world that is both disturbing and engrossing, to which we are granted a privileged view, from a merciful distance.’ –  The Saturday Paper

    ‘One reason to read a book (when well-executed) that may challenge, horrify and even offend is because of the way it can help us dissect our own flaws and prejudices, our moral compass, and our actions. Summer House can certainly be engaged with on this level, leaving us alert and unsettled.’ – Weekend Australian

    ‘Last year, this bestselling Dutch novelist published The Dinner, about two warring couples at an Amsterdam restaurant. This year, he delivers a more expansive but even more poisonous novel about rivals vacationing in the Mediterranean.’ – The Washington Post

    ‘Koch […] takes us beneath the surface of everyday life and into the murky waters of life-altering decisions. You may not like what the summer house guests choose to do, but you’ll probably see a little of yourself in all of them in what could be the most talked-about book of the summer.’  – Chicago Tribune

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  • The Dinner

    Herman Koch

    | Fiction | This book has 301 pages

    January 2009

    ∗ full English, German & French translation ∗

    Rights sold: Atlantic (UK), Hogarth (USA), Text (ANZ), Kiepenheuer & Witsch (Germany), Belfond (France), Neri Pozza (Italy), Salamandra (Spain/Castilian), Ara Llibres (Spain/Catalan), Editorial Galaxia (Spain/Galician), Intrínseca (Brazil), Colibri (Bulgaria), Shanghai 99 (China), Znanje (Croatia), Barrister & Principal (Czech Republic), Audioteket/Mrs Robinson (Denmark), Al Arabia Agency (Egypt), Pegasus (Estonia), Hohe Publisher (Ethiopia), Siltala (Finland), Metaixmio (Greece), Europa (Hungary), Forlagid (Iceland), Keter (Israel), East Press (Japan), Eunhangnamu (Korea), Baltos lankos (lithuania), Pax Forlag (Norway), Media Rodzina (Poland),Objetiva (Portugal), Polirom (Romania), Azbooka (Russia), Zavet (Serbia), Sanje (Slovenia), Protea (South Africa), Lind & Co (Sweden), Crown (Taiwan), Dogan (Turkey), Kniga (Macedonia), Palitra (Georgia), PT Bentang Pustaka (Indonesia), Albas (Albania).

    Film rights sold: ChubbCo Film co (USA), Eyeworks (Netherlands), Rodeo Drive srl (Italy)

    Stage rights sold: Rowohlt Theater Verlag (Germany), Le Théâtre de Namur (Belgium), Oulu City Theatre Ltd (Finland), Eventos Y Servicios Actorales (Chili), Hummelinck & Stuurman (Netherlands)

    Radio play rights sold: Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln (Germany)




    How far does parental protection go when a child has done something that cannot possibly be justified – something that can ruin his life, that can put him in prison for years? Two married couples go out for dinner at a chic restaurant. They make small talk to postpone for a little while longer their real reason for meeting up: their sons’ future. These sons, Michel and Rick, have beaten up and eventually murdered a homeless woman at a cash machine after a school party. The images from the security camera have been broadcast on television, in which the two boys cannot (yet) be identified. But their arrest seems imminent. How far are you prepared to go as a parent to protect your own child?

    Press on The Dinner:

    ‘The reader does not rise from his table happy and replete so much as stand up suddenly, pale and reeling. Bored with Fifty Shades of Grey and all that brouhaha? Read The Dinner —and taste the shock.’ – The Economist

    ‘Poised to shake up American publishing… Koch tells a story that could very well take away your appetite.’ – USA

    ‘Slick, thrillerish and highly enjoyable.’ – Robert Collins, Sunday Times Culture

    ‘Funny, provocative and exceedingly dark, this is a brilliantly addictive novel that wraps its hands around your throat on page one and doesn’t let go.’ – S.J. Watson (author of Before I Go To Sleep)

    ‘A brilliant tragicomedy about the elasticity of morality … The reader has to constantly readjust his radar.‘ – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

    ‘A novel that has become a moral question around the world.’ – la Repubblica


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  • Odessa Star

    Herman Koch

    | Fiction | This book has 304 pages


    ∗ full German translation ∗

    Rights sold: Kiepenheuer & Witsch (Germany), Neri Pozza (Italy), Azbooka (Russia), Keter (Israel), Colibri (Bulgaria)

    Fred Moorman is in his late forties and dreams of a black Jeep Cherokee and a whole new set of friends. His life has come to a standstill and bores him to tears. The days when he used to think about astronomy, about light years and black holes, are absolutely over. All he ever talks about now is endowment mortgages and cruise control.

    His fourteen-year-old son has long since stopped regarding him as a hero, and his wife thinks out loud about what her life would be like if he fell down dead. At the height of this midlife crisis, Fred happens to run into Max G., an old high-school friend who impresses him with his brutal, aggressive behaviour, his beautiful women, his bodyguard and his cars.

    Max G. seems to have everything Fred doesn’t have: guts, assertiveness and a glamorous life. Fred begins spending more and more time with Max, even roping him and his criminal friends in when it comes to getting rid of a troublesome neighbour. But then Max G. is shot dead in a spectacular scene outside a restaurant – and we see the two men’s unequal friendship in a whole new light.

    Odessa Star was the first of Herman Koch’s occasional series of novels about slightly psychotic men who breathe fire and brimstone all around them out of deep frustration with their middle-class lives. A suspenseful, witty novel that takes us to Amsterdam’s underworld.

    Press on Odessa Star:

    ‘Koch proved himself a master at recording absurd trains of thoughts and slapstick situations. Both painful and hilarious at the same time.’ – NRC Handelsblad

    ‘An ingeniously plotted story. Odessa Star reads like a thriller.’ –Trouw

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