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Product Details
$25.95  $24.13
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
6.09 X 8.28 X 1.08 inches | 1.07 pounds

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About the Author
Jenny Erpenbeck was born in East Berlin in 1967. New Directions publishes her books The Old Child & Other Stories, The 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 award-winning translator Michael Hofmann has also translated works by Jenny Erpenbeck, Gert Hofmann, Franz Kafka, Heinrich von Kleist, and Joseph Roth for New Directions.
One of Germany's finest contemporary writers.--Claire Messud "The New York Times"
The brutality of her subjects, combined with the fierce intelligence and tenderness at work behind her restrained, unvarnished prose is overwhelming.--Nicole Krauss
In Erpenbeck, Germany has a rare national writer whose portrayals of a ruptured country and century are a reminder that novelists can treat history in ways that neither historians nor politicians ever could, cutting through dogma, fracturing time, preserving rubble.--Gal Beckerman "The Atlantic" (5/16/2023 12:00:00 AM)
With Kairos, Erpenbeck proves the impossibility, irresponsibility even, of an easy binary and reminds us that the only thing we can be certain of is an ending that will bring along change.--Amber Ruth Paulen "Full Stop"
Erpenbeck is among the most sophisticated and powerful novelists we have. Clinging to the undercarriage of her sentences, like fugitives, are intimations of Germany's politics, history and cultural memory. It's no surprise that she is already bruited as a future Nobelist....I don't generally read the books I review twice, but this one I did.--Dwight Garner "The New York Times"
Erpenbeck's handling of characters caught within the mesh (and mess) of history is superb. Threats loom over their love and over their country. Hans is jealous, weak-willed, vindictive, Katharina self-abasing. At heart the book is about cruelty more than passion, about secrets, betrayal, and loss.-- "Kirkus Reviews"
Erpenbeck presents the intimate and the momentous with equal emphasis, so that personal and historical time run on nearly parallel tracks, until they have no choice but to converge.--Robert Rubsam "Washington Post"
What is past, what is present, and what persists are questions that haunt Kairos a novel concerned with continuity in politics and culture but also with passion and character. ... Erpenbeck's spare style, seamlessly blending dialogue, thought, narrative and allusions to German culture, echoes the ideas that animate Kairos, and occasionally the disorientation at its core.--Ellen Akin "Minneapolis Star-Tribune"
In Kairos, Erpenbeck brilliantly uses distortions of memory and distance to elucidate the ways in which history is constantly happening; the future can be made clear if only one pays acute attention to the minutiae of the present--politically, personally, socially.--Regan Mies "Necessary Fiction"
A writer with a roving, furious, brilliant mind...Erpenbeck has done it again.--Charles Finch "Los Angeles Times"
One of the bleakest and most beautiful novels I have ever read. ... Erpenbeck never reaches for the stock phrase or the known response. While the novel is indeed bleak in its view of love and politics, spending time with Erpenbeck's rigorous and uncompromising imagination is invigorating all the way to the final page.--Natasha Walter "The Guardian"
Pain and pleasure do the tango in the engrossing new novel Kairos, the story of a love affair set in East Germany right before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It's the latest book from the East Berlin born Jenny Erpenbeck who I fully expect to win the Nobel Prize sometime in the next five years. Erpenbeck--in Michael Hofmann's crystalline translation--provides the richest portrait I've read of what happened to East Germans when their glumly repressive communist state was replaced overnight by a cocky, shopping-mad West Germany that instantly set about erasing the reality they knew - devaluing their money, dismantling their media, denying their values.--John Powers "NPR"
Erpenbeck astutely conveys the affair's quotidian beats...[she] is not a writer who coddles her readers, starting with the coolly dispassionate narrative voice of her fiction, a studied craft that skillfully heightens emotional heft by maintaining tension between what is being conveyed and how it is conveyed.--Cory Oldweiler "The Boston Globe"
Another major work...ice-pick precise and gorgeously written.--Barbara Hoffert "Library Journal"
Erpenbeck is wary of swift and unequivocal resolutions, choosing instead to reside in extended moments of tension. In effect, almost everything about Erpenbeck's latest novel, from the musical texture of its prose to its occasionally synoptic narration, is arranged to allow these tensions to remain wonderfully unresolved...There is serendipity in the relationship's beginning, and necessity in its ending.--Bailey Trela "Commonweal Magazine"
Erpenbeck is frequently named on lists of Nobel Prize contenders and, for newcomers to her work, Kairos easily demonstrates why. Its mix of intimacy and historical sweep is astounding. So is its prose. In poet and translator Michael Hofmann's rigorous translation, Kairos' writing feels purified, as if any emotional irrelevancy had been burned out.--Lily Meyer "NPR"
Erpenbeck is adept at exploring big subjects via the intimate relationships between people... [Kairos is] a clear-eyed book, morally neutral and the more interesting for it.--Rumaan Alam "The New Republic"
Erpenbeck's narration artfully alternates between the perspectives of Katharina and Hans, inviting us to read the mirrored thoughts of this couple, unequal both in terms of age and power. ... Her eagle-eyed observations are both poignant and accurate. ... Kairos can be read as the downfall of a controlling relationship, but it becomes much more: an analysis of the power balance between a state and its subjects. A compulsive read.--Catherine Venner "World Literature Today"
Erpenbeck's hypnotic prose and brilliant accounting of German history feel particularly profound. Kairos is an absorbingly bleak look at lost love that will stay with you long after it ends.-- "TIME 100 Must-Read Books of 2023"
An expertly braided novel about the entanglement of personal and national transformations, set amid the tumult of 1980s Berlin. Kairos unfolds around a chaotic affair between Katharina, a 19-year-old woman, and Hans, a 53-year-old writer in East Berlin. Erpenbeck's narrative prowess lies in her ability to show how momentous personal and historical turning points intersect, presented through exquisite prose that marries depth with clarity. She masterfully refracts generation-defining political developments through the lens of a devastating relationship, thus questioning the nature of destiny and agency. Kairos is a bracing philosophical inquiry into time, choice, and the forces of history.-- "Jury of the 2024 International Booker Prize"