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German author Jenny Erpenbeck wins Booker International Prize for story of tangled love affair

German author Jenny Erpenbeck wins Booker International Prize for story of tangled love affair

 


The only thing everyone knows is that they had a wall, they were terrorizing everyone with the Stasi and that's it,” she said. “That's not all.

Kairos traces an affair from utopian beginning to bitter end, and draws parallels between personal life and the life of the state.

The book beat five other finalists, chosen from 149 submitted novels, for the award, which recognizes fiction from around the world that has been translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland. 50,000 pounds ($64,000) in prize money is split between the author and the translator.

Canadian broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel, who chaired the five-member judging panel, said Erpenbeck's novel about the relationship between a student and an older writer is a richly textured evocation of a tortured love affair, intertwining personal and national transformations. .

It is set in the last days of the German Democratic Republic, leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Erpenbeck, 57, was born and raised in East Berlin, which was part of East Germany until the country disappeared with German reunification in 1990.

Like GDR, (the book) starts with optimism and confidence, then it unravels so badly, Wachtel said.

She said Hofmanns translation captures the eloquence and eccentricities of Erpenbecks prose.

The Booker International Prize is awarded annually. It runs alongside The Booker Prize for English-language fiction, which will be distributed in the fall.

Last year's winner was another novel about communism and its legacy in Europe, Refuge in Time by Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov and translated by Angela Rodel.

The prize was created to raise the profile of fiction in other languages, which makes up only a small proportion of books published in Britain, and to recognize the undervalued work of literary translators.

Erpenbeck is the first German winner of the Booker International Prize, and Hofmann is the first male translator to win since the prize was launched in its current form in 2016.

He said he felt his style complemented that of the author.

I think she's a tighter, more methodical writer than I am, he said, and the English-language book is “a mixture of her order and my chaos.

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