From the celebrated author of Border, here is a portrait of an ancient but little-understood corner of Balkans, and a personal reckoning with the past
Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa. Two vast lakes joined by underground rivers. Two lakes that seem to hold both the turbulent memories of the region's past, and the secret of its enduring allure. Two lakes that have played a central role in Kapka Kassabova's maternal family.
As she journeys to her grandmother's place of origin, Kassabova encounters a civilisational crossroads. The Lakes are set within the mountainous borderlands of North Macedonia, Albania and Greece, and crowned by the old Roman road, the via Egnatia. Once a trading and spiritual nexus of the southern Balkans, this lake region remains one of Eurasia's most culturally diverse areas. Meanwhile, with their remote rock churches, changeable currents, and large population of migratory birds, the Lakes live in their own time.
By exploring on water and land the stories of poets, fishermen, and caretakers, misfits, rulers, and inheritors of war and exile, Kassabova uncovers the human history shaped by the Lakes. Setting out to resolve her own ancestral legacy of the Lakes, Kassabova's journey unfolds to a deeper enquiry into how geography and politics imprint themselves upon families and nations, and confronts her with questions about human suffering and the capacity for change.
KAPKA KASSABOVA is a poet, novelist and writer of narrative non-fiction. She grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, and now lives in the Scottish Highlands. Her acclaimed memoirs Street Without a Name (2008) and Twelve Minutes of Love (2011) were followed by Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe (2017) which won the British Academy's Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year, the Edward Stanford-Dolman Travel Book of the Year, and the inaugural Highlands Book Prize. It was short-listed for the Baillie-Gifford Prize. kapka-kassabova.net