Winner of the International Booker Prize 2024 for Kairos. Jenny Erpenbeck was born in East Berlin in 1967, and is an opera director, playwright and award-winning novelist.

She first trained as a bookbinder, then worked as a theatre props manager before studying musical theatre direction and enjoying a successful career as an opera director from the late 1990s. She published her debut novella, Geschichte vom alten Kind, in 1999. Susan Bernofsky’s English translation, The Old Child, was published in 2005. Erpenbeck’s other translated works include The Book of Words (2008), Visitation (2010) and The End of Days (2014, winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize), and Go, Went, Gone (2017, which was longlisted for the International Booker Prize in 2018). as well as Not a Novel: Collected Writings and Reflections (2020). Her work has been translated into over 30 languages, and it has been said that she is better known overseas than in her native Germany. In 2019 her novel Visitation was named one of the 100 best books of the 21st century by the Guardian.

In the United States, her novel Kairos, translated by Michael Hofmann, was longlisted for 2023’s National Book Award for Translated Literature. In May 2024, Kairos won the International Booker Prize. 

Jenny Erpenbeck

What makes Kairos so unusual is that it is both beautiful and uncomfortable, personal and political 

— The International Booker Prize 2024 judges, on Kairos

Other nominated books

Go, Went, Gone