Kairos, written by Jenny Erpenbeck and translated by Michael Hofmann, has won the International Booker Prize, given annually to “the finest single work of fiction from around the world which has been translated into English and published in the U.K. and/or Ireland.”

Erpenbeck and Hofmann were announced as the winners at a ceremony in London on Tuesday night.

Kairos, published in the U.S. last June by New Directions, follows Katharina, a 19-year-old woman, and Hans, a writer in his 50s, who have an affair in East Berlin in the late 1980s, as East Germany heads toward a collapse. A critic for Kirkus wrote of the book, “The personal and the political echo artfully in the last years of the German Democratic Republic.”

Erpenbeck is the first German author to win the award; she was previously longlisted for the prize in 2018 for Go, Went, Gone, translated by Susan Bernofsky.

Eleanor Wachtel, the chair of judges for the prize, said in a statement, “In luminous prose, Jenny Erpenbeck exposes the complexity of a relationship between a young student and a much older writer.…Michael Hofmann’s translation captures the eloquence and eccentricities of Erpenbeck’s writing, the rhythm of its run-on sentences, the expanse of her emotional vocabulary.”

The International Booker Prize was first awarded in 2005; for its first six years, it was given to a writer in recognition of their entire body of work. Previous books to have won the award include The Vegetarian, written by Han Kang and translated by Deborah Smith, and Flights, written by Olga Tokarczuk and translated by Jennifer Croft.

Michael Schaub is a contributing writer.