The novel 'Kairs', by the German Jenny Erpenbeck, wins the International Booker | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.


The novel Kairsby the German author Jenny Erpenbeck, has received the literary prize International Booker 2024, in response to the announcement this Tuesday, the president of the panel of judges, Eleanor Wachtel, at a ceremony held on the Tate Modern gallery in London.

Erpenbeck (Berlin, 1967) thus turns into the first German writer to win the distinguished award, that he shares with the poet, critic and translator Michael Hofmann, after beating 5 different finalists, together with Argentina Almada Jungle, for his work 'No River' ('It's not a river') and the Brazilian Itamar VieiraJunior by 'Crooked Plow'.

This recognition rewards works of fiction by authors from everywhere in the world, translated into English, and revealed within the United Kingdom or Ireland and is endowed with 50,000 kilos (58,500 euros), divided equally between the author, who was additionally a finalist within the 2018 version, and the translator.

When describing the successful entry, set throughout and after the time of the autumn of the 'iron curtain', Erpenbeck notes that it’s “a private story of a great love and its decline, but it is also a story of the dissolution of an entire political system. Simply put: How can something that seems right at first turn out to be so wrong?” .

The novel, initially written in German, is about a harmful affair between a younger lady and a author a lot older than her within the Nineteen Eighties in communist Germany, and mixes private and political features whereas being a meditation on hope and disappointment, elevating questions on freedom, loyalty, love and energy.

“With luminous prose, Jenny Erpenbeck exposes the complexity of a relationship between a young student and a much older writer, following the daily tensions and setbacks that mark their intimacy, staying close to the apartments, the cafes and the streets, the places work and East Berlin meals,” says Eleanor Wachtel, chair of the judging panel.

Wachtel provides that “the lovers' self-absorption, their descent into a destructive vortex, continues to be connected to the broader history of East Germany during that period, often bringing together history and strange angles.”

About the award-winning translator, the president of the judges remarks that “Hofmann's translation captures the eloquence and eccentricities of Erpenbeck's writing, the rhythm of his consecutive sentences, the breadth of his emotional vocabulary.”

He additionally notes that “what makes the novel so unusual is that it is both beautiful and uncomfortable, personal and political, and invites you to make the connection between the political events that defined this generation and the devastating, even brutal, history of love, questioning nature”.

The e-book was a finalist together with the aforementioned 'Not A River' ('No es un Ro', by Selva Almada), 'The Details', by the Swedish Ia Genberg, 'Master 2-10', by the Korean Hwang Sok-yong, 'What I'd Rather Not Think About', by the Dutch Jente Posthuma, and the additionally talked about 'Crooked Plow' ('Tordo Arado', by scallop Junior), chosen from 149 works revealed within the United Kingdom or Ireland between May 1, 2023 and April 30, 2024.

Among the panel of judges, along with Wachtel, this version included the American poet and educator Natalie Diaz, the Sri Lankan-born British novelist Romesh Gunesekera, the South African visible artist William Kentridge and the author, editor and translator Aaron Robertson.