Jenny Erpenbeck & Maiken Scott at the German Society of Pennsylvania

May, 08 2024 | 6:00 PM

Jenny Erpenbeck & Maiken Scott at the German Society of Pennsylvania

German Society of Pennsylvania

Address: 611 Spring Garden St
City: Philadelphia
State: PA

Join us on May 8 at 6pm for a book talk and reading from Jenny Erpenbeck on her newest book, Kairos. This event is free and open to the public with RSVP.

Jenny Erpenbeck (the author of Go, Went, Gone and Visitation) is an epic storyteller and arguably the most powerful voice in contemporary German literature. Erpenbeck’s new novel Kairos—an unforgettably compelling masterpiece—tells the story of the romance begun in East Berlin at the end of the 1980s when nineteen-year-old Katharina meets by chance a married writer in his fifties named Hans. Their passionate yet difficult long-running affair takes place against the background of the declining GDR, through the upheavals wrought by its dissolution in 1989 and then what comes after. In her unmistakable style and with enormous sweep, Erpenbeck describes the path of the two lovers, as Katharina grows up and tries to come to terms with a not always ideal romance, even as a whole world with its own ideology disappears. As the Times Literary Supplement writes: “The weight of history, the particular experiences of East and West, and the ways in which cultural and subjective memory shape individual identity has always been present in Erpenbeck’s work. She knows that no one is all bad, no state all rotten, and she masterfully captures the existential bewilderment of this period between states and ideologies.”

In the opinion of her superbly gifted translator Michael Hofmann, Kairos is the great post-Unification novel. And, as The New Republic has commented on his work as a translator: “Hofmann’s translation is invaluable—it achieves what translations are supposedly unable to do: it is at once ‘loyal’ and ‘beautiful.’”

Jenny Erpenbeck was born in East Berlin in 1967. New Directions publishes her books The Old Child & Other StoriesThe End of DaysThe Book of Words, and Visitation, which NPR called “a story of the century as seen by the objects we’ve known and lost along the way.” The End of Days won the prestigious Hans Fallada Prize and the International Foreign Fiction Prize, and is the author’s representative text for the 2024 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Her most well-known work, Go, Went, Gone, was longlisted for The Man Booker International Prize in 2018, of which New Yorker critic James Wood noted that the book would be cited “[when] Erpenbeck wins the Nobel Prize.” Following her insightful non-fiction essay collection Not a Novel, comes the new novel Kairos, longlisted for the 2023 National Book Award for Translated Literature. In his praise for Kairos, John Powers emphatically stated on NPR that he fully expects "Erpenbeck to win the Nobel Prize sometime in the next five years.” An epic storyteller and arguably the most powerful voice in contemporary German literature, Erpenbeck lives in Berlin.