Friday, May 24, 2024


KairosKairos by Jenny Erpenbeck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kairos' International Booker win was no surprise. The book is a significant achievement of original story and translation weaving the "May-December" affair of Hans and Katharina in mid-eighties East Berlin through to the fall of the Wall and the changes to them, their lives and the country. Music accompanies every aspect of their lives together listening to Mozart, Chopin, Bach, in their trysts to avoid his wife, her career moves as a theatre set designer, dalliances and ensuing abuse from him (difficult to read), while political machinations mirror their liaison's end.
"When Katharina walks around in the West, she feels like a bad copy of the people who live there, an imposter, a cheat, liable to be exposed at any moment. With her eyes, which in this other half of the city are a stranger's eyes, she sees how every conceivable need is catered for by some product or other in the shops, the freedom to consume seems like an India rubber wall to her, separating people from any yearnings that might transcend their personal and momentary wishes.
269 Coca-Cola has succeeded, where Marxist philosophy has failed, at uniting the proletarians of all nations under its banner." Kairos is the god of fortunate moments.

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