Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

This book is utterly original: a travelogue, a history, a fine work of journalism, all rolled into one with gripping and elegant prose. Let Kassabova take you on a journey to the borderlands where clash between East and West, native and refugee, tradition and modernity is timeless, but not hopeless.

— From Devon D. Staff Picks


"Remarkable: a book about borders that makes the reader feel sumptuously free." --Peter Pomerantsev

In this extraordinary work of narrative reportage, Kapka Kassabova returns to Bulgaria, from where she emigrated as a girl twenty-five years previously, to explore the border it shares with Turkey and Greece. When she was a child, the border zone was rumored to be an easier crossing point into the West than the Berlin Wall, and it swarmed with soldiers and spies. On holidays in the "Red Riviera" on the Black Sea, she remembers playing on the beach only miles from a bristling electrified fence whose barbs pointed inward toward the enemy: the citizens of the totalitarian regime.

Kassabova discovers a place that has been shaped by successive forces of history: the Soviet and Ottoman empires, and, older still, myth and legend. Her exquisite portraits of fire walkers, smugglers, treasure hunters, botanists, and border guards populate the book. There are also the ragged men and women who have walked across Turkey from Syria and Iraq. But there seem to be nonhuman forces at work here too: This densely forested landscape is rich with curative springs and Thracian tombs, and the tug of the ancient world, of circular time and animism, is never far off.

Border is a scintillating, immersive travel narrative that is also a shadow history of the Cold War, a sideways look at the migration crisis troubling Europe, and a deep, witchy descent into interior and exterior geographies.

About the Author

Kapka Kassabova is the author of three poetry collections, the novel Villa Pacifica, and the acclaimed memoirs Street Without a Name: Childhood and Other Misadventures in Bulgaria and Twelve Minutes of Love: A Tango Story. She lives in Scotland.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781555977863
ISBN-10: 1555977863
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Pages: 400
Language: English