Elixir: In The Valley At The End Of TIme; Kapka Kassabova

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In Elixir , in a wild river valley and amid the three mountains that define it, Kapka Kassabova seeks out the deep connection between people, plants, and place. The Mesta is one of the oldest rivers in Europe and the surrounding forests and mountains of the southern Balkans are an extraordinarily rich nexus for plant gatherers.

Over several seasons, Kassabova spends time with the people of this magical region. She meets women and men who work in a long lineage of foragers, healers, and mystics. She learns about wild plants and the ancient practice of herbalism that makes use of them, and she experiences a symbiotic system where nature and culture have blended for thousands of years. Through her captivating encounters we come to feel the devastating weight of the ecological and cultural disinheritance that the people of this valley have suffered. And Kassabova reflects on what being disconnected from place can do to our souls and our bodies. Yet, in her search for elixir, she also finds reasons for hope. The people of the valley are keepers of a rare knowledge, not only of mountain plants and their properties, but also of how to transform collective suffering into healing.

Immersive and enthralling, Elixir is an urgent and unforgettable call to rethink how we live―in relation to one another, to Earth, and to the cosmos.

May 16, 2023


About the Author

Kapka Kassabova was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria in the 1970s and 1980s. Her family emigrated to New Zealand just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and she spent her late teens and twenties in New Zealand where she studied French Literature, and published two poetry collections and the Commonwealth-Writers Prize-winner for debut fiction in Asia-Pacific, Reconnaissance.

In 2004, Kapka moved to Scotland and published Street Without a Name (Portobello, 2008). It is a story of the last Communist childhood and a journey across post-communist Bulgaria. It was short-listed for the Dolman Travel Book Award.

The music memoir Twelve Minutes of Love (Portobello 2011), a tale of Argentine tango, obsession and the search for home, was short-listed for the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards.

Villa Pacifica (Alma Books 2011), a novel with an equatorial setting, came out at the same time.

Border: a journey to the edge of Europe (2017 Granta/ Greywolf) is an exploration of Europe's remotest border region.

Her essays and articles have appeared in The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement, Vogue, The Sunday Times, The Scottish Review of Books, The NZ Listener, The New Statesman, and 1843 Magazine.

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