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A doomed affair: Kairos, by Jenny Erpenbeck, reviewed

A young woman and an older, married man fall passionately in love in the last days of the GDR – but abuse and jealousy soon turn things sour

24 June 2023

9:00 AM

24 June 2023

9:00 AM

Kairos Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Michael Hofmann

Granta, pp.304, 16.99

We all live with boundaries, but few of us feel that as keenly as Jenny Erpenbeck, who grew up in the Pankow district of East Berlin, a stone’s throw from the Wall. Now a leading novelist of a unified Germany, she explained several years ago that when the Wall came down in 1989 and the East German state collapsed (she was 22 at the time), a ‘border’ was created between two halves of her life.

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