Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated from German by Michael Hofmann.

Born in East Berlin in 1967, Erpenbeck, in addition to being an award-winning novelist, is also an opera director and playwright who trained as bookbinder (endearing her to us even more).

Her novel, published by Granta books, is described by the International Booker Prize as following “a destructive affair between a young woman and an older man in 1980s East Berlin, with the two lovers seemingly embodying East Germany’s crushed idealism. A meditation on hope and disappointment, Kairos poses complex questions about freedom, loyalty, love and power. ”

Erpenbeck herself has said of her book: “It’s a private story of a big love and its decay, but it’s also a story of the dissolution of a whole political system. Simply put: How can something that seems right in the beginning, turn into something wrong?”

“What makes Kairos so unusual,” said the judges, “is that it is both beautiful and uncomfortable, personal and political.”

Erpenbeck will split the £50,000 (€58,370) prize money with translator Hofman.

To see other literary award winners from various competitions, check out our Prizewinning Books highlights page here.