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Kairos (Paperback)
  • Kairos (Paperback)

Kairos (Paperback)

(author), (translator)
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Paperback 304 Pages
Published: 11/04/2024
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Waterstones Says

In this powerful slice of existential fiction set in 1980s Berlin, the author of Visitation paints a strikingly intimate, haunting portrait of an all-consuming love affair and a society headed for crisis.

Winner of the International Booker Prize 2024

Berlin. 11 July 1986. They meet by chance on a bus. She is a young student, he is older and married. Theirs is an intense and sudden attraction, fuelled by a shared passion for music and art, and heightened by the secrecy they must maintain. But when she strays for a single night he cannot forgive her and a dangerous crack forms between them, opening up a space for cruelty, punishment and the exertion of power. And the world around them is changing too: as the GDR begins to crumble, so too do all the old certainties and the old loyalties, ushering in a new era whose great gains also involve profound loss.

From a prize-winning German writer, this is the intimate and devastating story of the path of two lovers through the ruins of a relationship, set against the backdrop of a seismic period in European history.

Publisher: Granta Books
ISBN: 9781783786138
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 211 g
Dimensions: 198 x 128 x 17 mm


Erpenbeck has proved time and again that she is a fearless, astute examiner of a country's soul... Kairos powerfully examines individual as well as collective history - Economist

An ambitious story of love and betrayal - Irish Times

Carefully structured and [...] emotionally resonant... As ever with Erpenbeck, history makes mincemeat of those swept along in its wake: which is to say, all of us. Kairos furthers the conviction that Erpenbeck is a dead cert for a future Nobel prize - Guardian

A subtle, richly layered, densely allusive and hugely ambitious novel... Kairos is an impressive achievement that has deepened my admiration for Erpenbeck's talent for weaving into her fiction clashes of ideology and convulsions of history - Spectator

An extraordinary story of twisted love that unspools in East Berlin during the last years of the GDR... Like all the best allegories, Kairos cannot be reduced to a single, unambiguous message. Kairos is an autopsy of those broken bonds that you were sure would last forever - Sunday Telegraph

A new book from German author Jenny Erpenbeck is always worthy of note and Kairos is no exception... This is Erpenbeck at her brilliant best. One of the great fictional chroniclers of modern Europe - New European

Erpenbeck is a writer with a roving, furious, brilliant mind. Kairos bears with it the absolute urgency of existential questions... Erpenbeck's handling of characters caught within the mesh (and mess) of history is superb. - Los Angeles Times

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 - New York Times

Kairos is one of the bleakest and most beautiful novels I have ever read - Guardian

Stylishly translated by Michael Hofmann, this is a finely calibrated book... Erpenbeck's subtle use of mirroring reflects the unbreakable links that remained between East and West Germany - Observer

An intimate account of obsessive, transgressive passion. Erpenbeck writes masterfully about time - Harper's

Here's an early contender for novel of the year... There's jealousy, deception, surveillance, cruelty. Pulsing with emotion, it's a beautiful, upsetting work - Telegraph

Kairos effectively captures the generational divide in Germany at the time of reunification... The end of the affair is a clever analogue for the demise of the socialist experiment - Financial Times

Revelling in complexity and ambiguity, Erpenbeck knows that no one is all bad, no state all rotten, and she masterfully captures... existential bewilderment - Anna Katharina Schaffner, TLS

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... Erpenbeck's novels point us beyond her nation's particular convulsions; they are about capturing what humans leave behind as other humans follow them-the ruins we must live with, even as they molder - Atlantic

This clever narrative offers an uncomfortable allegory of life under the Stasi, and the finale packs a punch - Daily Mail

Erpenbeck...weaves together her story of loss, lies and betrayal (in both the personal and political spheres) with tremendous skill; artfully translated by Michael Hofmann - Collagerie

In this granular and, at times, shockingly intimate narrative of an all-consuming love affair that ultimately turns abusive, Jenny Erpenbeck has written an allegory of her nation, a country that has ceased to exist -- East Germany. No writer on the world stage can make the texture and details of individual lives articulate so seamlessly and unobtrusively the way humans are subjects of, and subjected to, history. The ending is like a bomb thrown into your room -- you'll be reeling for days and weeks to come. - Neel Mukherjee

How calmly, and with what certainty, Jenny Erpenbeck invents love... Katharina and Hans narrate their own seduction, their voices sliding past each other in Erpenbeck's exquisite ink... Theirs is the kind of passion that bursts open like a soft fruit dropped onto a hard floor, but Erpenbeck makes you believe in it... An elegant novel - The Times

Kairos [...] swiftly takes the reader back in time... Erpenbeck's narrative soon turns dark, weaving personal and political with a deft hand - Radio Times

Kairos is a fearsomely symmetrical novel... It's a novel that comes as close as fiction can allow to representing the shared or double consciousness that arises when we fall in love... profoundly involving - Literary Review

[Erpenbeck] writes confident, sexy sentences... The novel's political allegory is smarter than most - The Times and Sunday Times

[A] rigorously beautiful novel - Telegraph

[Kairos] affected me greatly... it has really stayed with me - Irish Independent

Oxford Literary Fiction Book Club

Oxford Literary Fiction Book Club

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Join us at 18:00 in the Cafe for a coffee and chat about our Lit Fic Book Pick.


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“Well-deserved winner for the 2024 International Booker Prize”

Erpenbeck interweaves the relationship of Katharina and Hans against the cultural, political climate of Germany in an elegant allegorical manner. The passion and violence that constantly crops up within their main... More

Paperback edition
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“Berlin affairs”

“Home? Coca-Cola, she’s noticed is now on sale in the eastern half of Friedrichstrasse station, also in Pankow in the little store where she always shops, Coca-Cola same as in New York or Munich. Coca-Cola has... More

Paperback edition
2 similar books recommended
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Dare I say, a work of unbridled genius.

Hardback edition
4 similar books recommended
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