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Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe

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Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe

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    Available in PDF Format | Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe.pdf | English
    Kapka Kassabova(Author)
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 through a hidden corner of the continent, and meets the people of this triple border -- Bulgarians, Turks, Greeks, indigenous Balkan Muslims, 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 Nazi occupation, by the Ottoman Empire, and - older still - by the ancient legacy of myths and legends. But there seem to be non-human forces at work here too: it is a land rich with curative springs and Thracian tombs; home to psychic healers and Europe's last fire-worshippers. As Kapka Kassabova explores this enigmatic region in the company of border guards and treasure hunters, entrepreneurs and botanists, 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.

'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, Guardian 'Like a sharp-eyed magpie, [Kassabova's] travels across the border in this place with three alphabets, picking up intriguing titbits of history and folklore... With a lightness of touch, [...] the tragedies, ironies and curiosities of this often-overlooked corner of Europe, with hotchpotch of peoples, are captured by Kassabova's vivid phrasings' -- The Times '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, and that is surely the travel writer's essential skill... [Border] is aromatic, lyrical, disturbing - and very, very fine' -- Sunday Times '[Kassabova] has an old-fashioned gift for storytelling... Border brilliantly reveals the effects of a millennium of kaleidoscopic shifting. Thoughtful and impressive' -- 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' -- Financial Times '[Kassabova] segues seamlessly between myth and history, memoir and reportage. Border is a great [travel book]. But it's more than that: it's a big-hearted book for what seems an increasingly mean-spirited age. It spells out the human consequences of nationalism and totalitarianism; of a narrow focus on identity and ethnicity; of divisions and fences and walls designed to keep 'them' from 'us'' -- Daily Telegraph 'Kapka Kassabova's poignant, erudite and witty third book, Border, 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' -- Economist '[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' -- Herald '[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' -- Country Life 'A brilliantly diverse and skillful writer... [Kassabova's] narrative nonfiction is renowned... Fascinating' -- Big Issue 'This beautiful, tragic and universal new book may just be the most important you read in this year of Brexit' --Skinny'This exceptional book about a journey though Bulgaria's dark, often magical borderlands is every bit as the travel writing of Patrick Leigh Fermor' -- Sunday Times, Top Five Non-Fiction Books for Summer 'She picks up intriguing bits about folklore, history and modern living [and] has a light touch... Vividly written' -- Summer Must-Reads, The Times '[A] remarkable personal exploration of the borderland between Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey. The Bulgarian-born poet converses with strangers -- guards, treasure-hunters, botanists, refugees, smugglers -- to release unusual, vivid, poignant human stories. She comes to it with a poet's sensibility and a journalist's curiosity. A wonderful, luminous combination' -- New Internationalist '[A] valuable book [that] brings to life not just a neglected region but also one of the themes of our time: borders, open and closed... A book of our time' -- Scottish Legal News 'Kapka Kassabova writes with such energy and style that you feel she could visit the dullest place on earth and make it burst into life. But she has found somewhere extraordinary, the borderland between Greece and Bulgaria and Turkey - one of history's well-worn playgrounds. The individual stories she tells - by turns dramatic and poignant, tragic and comic - are played against a ceaseless round of brutal wars and shifting empires. Border is a brilliant and hugely satisfying book' -- Philip Marsden '[Kassabova] has achieved something remarkable: a book about borders which makes the reader feel sumptuously free. An effect achieved by the way she moves between literary borders so gracefully: travelogue and existential drama; political history and poetry' -- Peter Pomerentsev 'Like the places it describes, the book holds you in a kind of mysterious electrical charge. It hums with the mystery, superstition, and terrible beauty of a place crushed between man-made borders but also defiantly announcing its sacred otherness. I can't stop thinking about it' -- Frances Stonor Saunders 'The literature of place is crying out for a talent as magical, brilliant and original as Kapka Kassabova's. She writes with taut intelligence and poetic intensity, a shrewd and grown-up worldliness and a rapt sense of all that isn't in the world, a combination that I've been looking this entire century.When Border arrived in my life, I felt as if I'd been struck by lightning' -- Pico Iyer 'This is a dazzling work of art and reportage, an iridescent book, glittering with stories of horror, comedy and actual magic. Kassabova is a brilliant traveller, an astonishing interviewer and writer with a near clairvoyant understanding of the real lives of man and women. In Border, she follows some fierce, sorcerous current which carries us all towards frontiers: there is an urgent and engrossing story here' -- Horatio Clare 'In Kassabova's study these tragic borderlands are brought to life with poetic grace, and her interaction with their inhabitants confers a haunting power on her journey' --Colin Thubron'Kassabova writes beautifully about the millions of refugees exchanged between Greece and Turkey' -- Prospect Magazine 'An extraordinary book... There are moments of dynamism and hope in these pages... It's to be hoped that Kassabova, with her glorious prose and open heart, always takes care but never abandons the quest [of storytelling]' -- Geographical Review 'Passionately lived... [Kassabova's] descriptions of place are lyrical and gorgeous... it's her encounters with people which bring the book to life... She lets the echoes in the stories she hears tell a wider story' -- Literary Review 'Written with compassion and intelligence, the prose here is as clear and fresh as a mountain stream. This is a timely and important book, and I can't recommend it highly enough' -- Big Issue 'An exceptional travel book that's every bit as good as the writing of Patrick Leigh Fermor' -- Sunday Times 'An accomplished poet and polyglot, [Kassabova] writes exquisite prose, dripping with scorn for the politicians whose bone-headed rules and careless greed despoil the land ad ruin the lives of those who still live there' -- 1843 Magazine 'Kapka Kassabova is a modern Scheherazade - a dazzling writer who tells stories as if her life depended on it... As this wonderful book goes on, a kind of deep background music begins to be heard: themes and images which recur and weave all the voices into a pattern... Spell binding' -- Scottish Review of Books 'A magical book... Kassabova captures the lingering ethnic tapestry of the region, its pagan-like religions and fire-walking cults, in poetic prose of mystical elegance' --Scottish Legal News

3.2 (6048)
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Book details

  • PDF | 400 pages
  • Kapka Kassabova(Author)
  • Granta Books (2 Feb. 2017)
  • English
  • 7
  • Biography
Read online or download a free book: Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe

Review Text

  • By SD on 1 September 2017

    well written, interesting and informative book about a part of the world which is perhaps less known to many.

  • By cynewulf on 9 April 2017

    As students, a friend and I drove in an old Mini to Istanbul and back in 1972. Came into Bulgaria from the Romanian Black Sea coast, then down the Red Riviera and into Turkey. So Akhtopol, Micurin, Nessebar, Malko Trnovo, Lulegurgaz, Kirklareli are names I remember well. Going into Turkey was interesting : miles and miles of nothingness on the Bulgarian road apart from an occasional sentry popping out of the bushes with a metal 'lollipop' stop sign. The road had only been opened relatively recently and I think we saw only one small sign to Istanbul. People on both sides were very friendly. Then back via Greece (Kavala, Alexandropoulis, Thessalonika - where I found out my degree result !) and northwards into Yugoslavia. So I read this with a great degree of interest. At times I found it gripping, at other times tedious - especially the homespun philosophy. Luckily it is structured into short sections, so one is not having to plough through long, dense chapters. Overall I'd recommend reading it, but it's a long slog.

  • By Guest on 11 June 2017

    If you've read Kapka Kassabova's previous book about growing up in Communist Bulgaria in the 80's, you'll know what makes her tick. If you haven't read that book, (Street With No Name) then I strongly recommend it to you, but it's not necessary to read that as a prequel to this.As Kapka touched upon her travels on the border in her previous book, I thought that maybe it there would be a large amount of print that I'd read before, this is simply not the case. I would say that this is not some twee travel book trying to sell the 'nice' face of Bulgaria - she tells it like it is - and this appears to upset some people who would rather bury the very real and not too happy recent past of this region.An excellent insight into a border area that has hardly been heard of in the West and understood even less.

  • By John M Ross on 15 June 2017

    I found this book absolutely fascinating. I knew where Europe was and where Asia was but had never before really thought of where they met. This book really opened my eyes with a series of fascinating vignettes about the people who occupy both sides of this volatile border. At times depressing but always showing that we humans make the best of whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. A very good read and one I will remember for some time to come.

  • By Janis Jefferies on 1 May 2017

    Terrific research, profoundly moving and a challenging, informative read

  • By . Keith. Levck on 19 March 2017

    an excellent account of travels and encounters in a corner of Europe, once ancient Thrace, divided by borders between Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece. Includes ethnic cleansing, the Cold War and the present.

  • By jaappe on 25 July 2017

    nice book good price quick delivery

  • By JSchroif on 20 March 2017

    So far an interesting book, easy to follow; a collection of stories set in a historically rich region

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