Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated from the German by Michael Hofmann (New Directions), won the 2024 International Booker Prize on May 21 at a ceremony at the Tate Modern in London. The honors come with a £50,000 cash prize split equally between the author and translator.

Erpenbeck’s novel "follows a destructive affair between a young woman and an older man in 1980s East Berlin" and "intertwines the personal and the political as the two lovers seemingly embody East Germany’s crushed idealism, with both holding on to the past long after they know they should move on," per the Booker Prizes. In its review, PW described the novel as setting "the dissolution of a May-December romance against the backdrop of German reunification" in an "audacious dissection of unruly forces" that "demonstrates how endings are already present in every personal or political beginning, however promising."

"Michael Hofmann’s translation captures the eloquence and eccentricities of Erpenbeck’s writing, the rhythm of its run-on sentences, the expanse of her emotional vocabulary," Eleanor Wachtel, who chaired this year's judging panel, said in a citation. "What makes Kairos so unusual is that it is both beautiful and uncomfortable, personal and political. Erpenbeck invites you to make the connection between these generation-defining political developments and a devastating, even brutal love affair, questioning the nature of destiny and agency. Like the GDR, it starts with optimism and trust, then unravels."

The novel was chosen from among 149 books, which Fiammetta Rocco, administrator of the International Booker Prize, noted was "the largest number ever submitted" for the prize. The shortlist for the prize included Not a River by Selva Almada, translated from the Spanish by Annie McDermott; The Details by Ia Genberg, translated from the Swedish by Kira Josefsson; Mater 2-10 by Hwang Sok-yong, translated from the Korean by Sora Kim-Russell and Youngjae Josephine Bae ; What I'd Rather Not Think About by Jente Posthuma, translated from the Dutch by Sarah Timmer Harvey; and Crooked Plow by Itamar Vieira Junior, translated from the Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz.