A Journey to the Edge of Europe
‘The tug of the border was powerful among the river dragonflies, like a gravitational force. Whichever way you turned, something was behind you and nothing ahead of you. Perhaps that’s what history is.’
‘This is an exceptional book, a tale of travelling and listening closely, and it brings something altogether new to the mounting literature on the story of modern migration... The strength of Kassabova’s book lies in the skill with which she interweaves the narrative of [today’s refugees] into that of the inhabitants of the borderlands.'
Caroline Moorhead, New Statesman
'[This] beautiful, tragic and universal new book may just be the most important you read in this year of Brexit.’
Alan Bett, The Skinny
'A marvellous book about a magical part of the world... It shows more starkly than anything else I have read what the border did to the people who live along it, and how its legacy endures... Kassabova, a poet, writes lyrically and effectively about the astonishing natural beauty of much of the area... as [she] arcs across countries and centuries in an effort to free herself from the enchantment of this strangest of regions. In the end she leaves, but the spell remains'
Mark Mazower, Book of the Week/ The Guardian
'This smokily intense and quiveringly powerful travel book is about the wild, forested and tragic borderland between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. Kassabova [...] has the travel-writer's core skill of acute sensitivity to her physical environment, together with a poet's turn of phrase and a poet's emotional rawness... Kassabova is, above all, sensationally good at meeting extraordinary people... [Border] is aromatic, lyrical, disturbing - and very, very fine'
James McConnachie, Sunday Times
'[Kassabova] has an old-fashioned gift for storytelling... Border brilliantly reveals the effects of a millenium of kaleidoscopic shifting. Thoughtful and impressive'
Sarah Wheeler, Observer
'With the deft touch of a historian, she connects the voices of those who have struggled to cross borders across the centuries... Kassabova is a poet, and her writing is beautiful - moving and witty by turns... In a world ever more divided, ever more threatened by Mexican walls, restrictive new passports and fear of the unknown, we need books like this'
Alev Scott, Financial Times
'Kapka Kassabova's poignant, erudite and witty third book brings hidden history vividly to light... She treads lightly but distinctly through the stories she tells, displaying an enviable mixture of rapport with her subjects and detachment from their peculiarities... It's a 'melancholy miracle', writes Ms Kassabova, that 'odd ragged bits of this once-rich human tapestry' survive. They could have no better chronicler'
'[Kassabova's] hunger and fascination with this little known region has resulted in Border, one of those books that elevates travel writing to art... Mystery, of course, is at the heart of her book. The mystery of marginal points and marginal people'
'[A] timely and moving book... Her writing powerfully weaves history, folklore, reportage and personal reflections... Border is illuminating, passionate and sometimes funny. It brilliantly ventriloquises the voice of this mysterious, often plundered part of Europe, revealing the ironies of nationalism and the profound way in which ethnicity and displacement can affect the human psyche'
Helena Drysdale, Country Life
‘Written with compassion and intelligence, the prose here is as clear and fresh as the mountain stream. This is a timely and important book, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.’
Doug Johnsone, Big Issue