• Monday, June 24, 2024

Jenny Erpenbeck's novel "Kairos" clinches the International Booker Prize for 2024

Jenny Erpenbeck's "Kairos" wins International Booker Prize 2024, exploring love amid East Germany's final years. Translator Michael Hofmann also honored.
on May 23, 2024
Jenny Erpenbeck's novel "Kairos" clinches the International Booker Prize for 2024 | Frontlist

The International Booker Prize for fiction was awarded to German author Jenny Erpenbeck and translator Michael Hofmann for their work "Kairos," which delves into a complex love affair set against the backdrop of East Germany's final years.

Erpenbeck expressed her desire for the book to offer readers a deeper understanding of life in the now-defunct Communist regime, beyond the portrayal in films like "The Lives of Others." She emphasized that East Germany's history was more multifaceted than commonly depicted, extending beyond the infamous Berlin Wall and Stasi surveillance.

"Kairos" intricately weaves the tale of a romantic relationship from its hopeful beginnings to its bitter conclusion, drawing parallels between personal struggles and the broader state of the nation.

The novel triumphed over five other finalists, selected from a pool of 149 submitted novels. The International Booker Prize, which honors translated fiction from around the globe published in the U.K. or Ireland, comes with a prize of £50,000, split between the author and translator.

Chairing the judging panel, Canadian broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel praised Erpenbeck's narrative for its poignant portrayal of a tumultuous love affair and its intersection with personal and national transformations.

Set against the backdrop of the GDR's demise and the fall of the Berlin Wall, "Kairos" reflects Erpenbeck's own upbringing in East Berlin, capturing the optimism and subsequent unraveling of the regime.

Wachtel commended Hofmann's translation for preserving the essence and idiosyncrasies of Erpenbeck's prose.

Established to elevate fiction in languages beyond English and recognize the vital role of literary translators, the International Booker Prize celebrates Erpenbeck as the first German recipient and Hofmann as the first male translator to win since the award's inception in its current format in 2016.

Hofmann noted the complementarity of his style with Erpenbeck's, describing the English-language rendition as a blend of her precision and his spontaneity.

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