Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck wins Booker prize

By Agencies
May 23, 2024
German writter Jenny Erpenbeck poses on the red carpet upon arrival for the International Booker Prize 2024 award announcement ceremony, at Tate Modern in central London. — AFP/File

LONDON: Jenny Erpenbeck and Michael Hofmann have won the 2024 International Booker prize for Erpenbeck’s “personal and political” novel Kairos, translated by Hofmann from German.


Erpenbeck is the first German writer to win, while Hofmann is the first male translator to win. The £50,000 prize money will be split equally between the pair.

Erpenbeck and Hofmann were announced as the winners at a ceremony held at the Tate Modern in London, sponsored by the Italian luxury fashion house Maison Valentino.

Kairos tells the story of a relationship set against the collapse of East Germany. The novel is a “richly textured evocation of a tormented love affair, the entanglement of personal and national transformations”, said judging chair and broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel.

Hofmann’s translation “captures the eloquence and eccentricities of Erpenbeck’s writing, the rhythm of its run-on sentences, the expanse of her emotional vocabulary”, she added.

Erpenbeck said: “Thirty years have passed since the country in which I was born is gone, so I could dare to look back and take my time to carefully research what I lived through without really being aware of it.”

“I got this idea to make a collage of this love story and the historic story”, she added. This gave her the opportunity to examine how things “meant to be true and great” and that had “utopian potential” could turn into “totally failed communication.” Hofmann said: “I was really lucky to be asked to do this book … And I thank Jenny for trusting me.”