German love story 'Kairos' wins International Booker Prize | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Kairos book
Kairos, winner of the International Booker Prize 2024

The book tells the story of a young woman’s affair with a married man in 1980s East Berlin



German writer Jenny Erpenbeck along with translator Michael Hofmann were on Tuesday named winners of the International Booker Prize for the novel “Kairos.”

The book, originally written in German, tells the story of a young woman’s “destructive affair” with an older man in 1980s East Berlin.

The prestigious award, handed out at a ceremony at London’s Tate Modern gallery, recognizes works of fiction from around the world that have been translated into English and the £50,000 ($62,000) prize is split equally between the author and the translator.

READ: International Booker Prize 2024 shortlist includes ‘implicitly optimistic’ titles from 6 countries

Chair of the 2024 judges Eleanor Wachtel praised Erpenbeck’s “luminous prose,” evoking “the complexity of a relationship” and the atmosphere of East Berlin.

The International Booker Prize 2024 shortlist | Photo from The Booker Prizes website

“It starts with love and passion, but it’s at least as much about power, art, and culture,” she said.

“The self-absorption of the lovers, their descent into a destructive vortex, remains connected to the larger history of East Germany during this period, often meeting history at odd angles,” she added.

For Erpenbeck, who is also an opera director, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 represented a “breaking free.”

Jenny Erpenbeck and Michael Hofmann, author and translator of “Kairos”

“What interested me is that breaking free is not the only thing that can be told in such a story,” she said in a statement.

“There are years before and years after,” she said.

Last year the International Booker Prize was awarded to Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov and translator Angela Rodel for the novel “Time Shelter” —a first for a book written in Bulgarian.


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