‘Kairos’ By Jenny Erpenbeck

Kevin Power at Literary Review:

How is a totalitarian state like a love affair? They both leave archives behind when they go. How is a totalitarian state like a bad love affair? The archive that survives the end of each is a monument to abuse, surveillance and betrayal.

This equivalence is indirectly evoked in the opening pages of Jenny Erpenbeck’s fourth novel, Kairos. The totalitarian state in question is the German Democratic Republic, whose Ministry for State Security (or Stasi) generated, in its forty years of existence, ‘the equivalent of all records in German history since the middle ages’ (this factoid comes courtesy not of Erpenbeck but of Anna Funder’s semi-elegiac 2003 portrait of GDR life, Stasiland).

The love affair at the centre of Kairos is that of Hans and Katharina.

more here.