Germany’s Jenny Erpenbeck Wins International Booker Prize
Life & Style

Germany’s Jenny Erpenbeck Wins International Booker Prize

German author Jenny Erpenbeck and translator Michael Hofmann won the International Booker Prize for the novel “Kairos,” a turbulent love story set in the final years of communist East Germany. They will split the £50,000 ($64,000, €59,000) award that was chosen from 149 entries.

“Kairos” portrays a young woman’s damaging relationship with an elderly man in East Berlin during the 1980s. The work has been described as “a richly textured evocation of a tormented love affair, interwoven with the personal and national transformations of East Germany” by Eleanor Wachtel, chair of the prize panel. Her compliment to Hofmann’s translation was that it retained Erpenbeck’s “eloquence and eccentricities” in the text.

Erpenbeck stated that she wanted to highlight parts of East Germany in the book that went beyond governmental persecution and monitoring. She underlined that the Berlin Wall and the Stasi are only two parts of East Germany’s past. Erpenbeck, who was born and reared in East Berlin, emphasised the need to understand the period before and following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Last year, the International Booker Prize went to the Bulgarian author Georgi Gospodinov, whose book “Time Shelter” Angela Rodel translated. In the autumn, the English-language fiction Booker Prize will be revealed.