Erpenbeck’s Book Wins 2024 International Booker Prize

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Image credit: Jens Kalaene/Picture Alliance, via Getty Images

Jenny Erpenbeck, a well-known German writer, won the prestigious International Booker Prize in 2024 for her book “Kairos.” The story, translated into English by Michael Hoffman, revolves around a love story set in East Germany’s final years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Out of 149 entries, Erpenbeck’s book stood out, earning her and Hoffman £50,000 in prize money, which they split equally. Erpenbeck’s win makes her the first German to receive the International Booker Prize, while Hoffman is the first male translator to win since the prize started in 2016.

“Kairos” explores personal relationships amidst the changing political landscape of East Germany. Erpenbeck, who grew up in East Berlin, hopes the book will offer readers a deeper understanding of the country beyond its reputation for the Berlin Wall and Stasi control.

The novel follows the lives of a student and an older writer, reflecting the ups and downs of East Germany’s journey from hope to disillusionment. Eleanor Wachtel, who led the judging panel, praised Erpenbeck’s skill in capturing the complexities of personal and national transformation. Hoffman’s translation was also commended for its ability to convey the beauty of Erpenbeck’s writing.

Reflecting on their achievement, Hoffman admires Erpenbeck’s storytelling precision and believes his translation style complements her work.

Re-reported from the article originally published in She the People.

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