Border

Kapka Kassabova
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A vivid journey through the haunted borderlands that once made up the easternmost stretch of the old Iron Curtain and today mark the outer reaches of Europe. "A marvellous book about a magical part of the world (The Guardian).
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Winner of the 2017 Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year
Winner of the Saltire Society Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2017
Shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2017
Shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize 2017

When Kapka Kassabova was a child, the borderzone between Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece was rumoured to be an easier crossing point into the West than the Berlin Wall so it swarmed with soldiers, spies and fugitives. On holidays close to the border on the Black Sea coast, she remembers playing on the beach, only miles from where an electrified fence bristled, its barbs pointing inwards toward the enemy: the holiday-makers, the potential escapees.

Today, this densely forested landscape is no longer heavily militarised, but it is scarred by its past. In Border, Kapka Kassabova sets out on a journey to meet the people of this triple border - Bulgarians, Turks, Greeks, and the latest wave of refugees fleeing conflict further afield. She discovers a region that has been shaped by the successive forces of history: by its own past migration crises, by communism, by two World wars, by the Ottoman Empire, and - older still - by the ancient legacy of myths and legends. As Kapka Kassabova explores this enigmatic region in the company of border guards and treasure hunters, entrepreneurs and botanists, psychic healers and ritual fire-walkers, refugees and smugglers, she traces the physical and psychological borders that criss-cross its villages and mountains, and goes in search of the stories that will unlock its secrets.

Border is a sharply observed portrait of a little-known corner of Europe, and a fascinating meditation on the borderlines that exist between countries, between cultures, between people, and within each of us.

"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 lives 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" (Book of the week review, The Guardian)

'[Kassabova] has an old-fashioned gift for storytelling ... Border brilliantly reveals the effects of a millennium of kaleidoscopic shifting. Thoughtful and impressive' (The Observer)
 

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Additional Info

ISBN 9781783783205
Publisher GRANTA BOOKS
Format Paperback
Publication date 1 Feb 2018

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