Will the “notoriously insular” American audience embrace the European best seller, The Dinner, by Dutch author Herman Koch, (RH/Hogarth; AudioGo; Thorndike Large Print)?
The Daily Beast explores that question on the eve of the book’s publication today, looking at other translations that have made it here (Stieg Larsson, big time) and others that haven’t. The Wall Street Journal has compared its prospects to Gone Girl, but The Daily Beast lands on a surprising precedent, saying The Dinner may have more in common with The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery (Europa Editions in 2008). “Like The Dinner, it’s a highly readable story set in a European capital, using personal struggles to illuminate greater societal and philosophical concerns.”
One indicator: holds in libraries are growing, but not astronomical (up to 200 in some large systems). Library ordering is modest, however, so holds ratios are as high as 15:1. It hasn’t yet cracked the Amazon Top 100 (it’s currently at #244). The week before its publication Gone Girl was showing a similar level of holds, but it was already at #15 on Amazon’s sales rankings.
Our take? You won’t lose by buying enough copies to match holds; even if word of mouth doesn’t take hold, readers will recognize it and snatch it from the new book shelves, but don’t expect another Gone Girl or Hedgehog.