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Jenny Erpenbeck wins Booker prize

Jenny Erpenbeck Wins International Booker Prize for ‘Kairos’

German author wins International Booker Prize for 'Kairos' - Los Angeles Times

Jenny Erpenbeck, a German author, has been awarded the International Booker Prize for her novel “Kairos,” along with her translator Michael Hofmann. The novel, which delves into a complex love story set during East Germany’s final years, was chosen from a shortlist of six works out of 149 submitted novels. The prize includes a 50,000-pound ($64,000) award split between the author and translator, celebrating outstanding translated fiction published in the UK or Ireland.

Eleanor Wachtel, a Canadian broadcaster who led the judging panel, praised “Kairos” as “a richly textured evocation of a tormented love affair and the entanglement of personal and national transformations.” The story unfolds in the last days of the German Democratic Republic, culminating with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Erpenbeck, 57, who grew up in East Berlin, reflects her personal experiences in the narrative.

Wachtel compared the novel’s trajectory to the GDR, noting, “Like the GDR, (the book) starts with optimism and trust, then unravels so badly.” She also lauded Hofmann’s translation for capturing Erpenbeck’s “eloquence and eccentricities.”

The International Booker Prize, awarded annually, runs alongside the Booker Prize for English-language fiction. In 2022, it was awarded to “Time Shelter” by Bulgarian author Georgi Gospodinov, translated by Angela Rodel. The prize aims to enhance the visibility of fiction written in languages other than English and to acknowledge the significant work of literary translators. Notably, Hofmann is the first male translator to receive the prize since 2016.

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