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In Translation: Jenny Erpenbeck on Kairos with Gal Beckerman

October 5, 2023

The Center for Fiction celebrated the art of translation by welcoming Jenny Erpenbeck (Go, Went, Gone; Visitation), one of German contemporary literature’s most distinct and powerful voices, to discuss her latest novel Kairos, translated to English by Michael Hofmann. A twisted love story set during the dissolution of the German Democratic Republic, Kairos has been described as the great post-Unification German novel. Erpenbeck was joined by Gal Beckerman, senior editor at the Atlantic and author of the book The Quiet Before, to discuss translation, the political novel, and representing a complicated history through the lens of an equally complex romance.

In Conversation


    Jenny Erpenbeck

    Jenny Erpenbeck

    Jenny Erpenbeck was born in East Berlin in 1967. New Directions publishes her books The Old Child; The Book of Words; The End of Days; Go, Went, Gone; Visitation; and Kairos, which John Powers on NPR described as “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.”

    Photo Credit: Wolfgang Bozic

  • rago_galbeckerman_DSCF4637_hires (1) - Eliana Cohen-Orth

    Gal Beckerman

    Gal Beckerman

    Gal Beckerman is the senior editor for books at the Atlantic. Formerly an editor at the New York Times Book Review, he is the author of The Quiet Before: On the Unexpected Origins of Radical Ideas, which was a New York Times Notable Book in 2022. His previous book, When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone, won the National Jewish Book Award and the Sami Rohr Prize and was named a best book of the year by the New Yorker and the Washington Post. He has a Ph.D. in media studies from Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and their two daughters.