To the Lake | Granta

To the Lake

Kapka Kassabova

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.

  • Published: 06/02/2020
  • Hardback
  • ISBN: 9781783783977
  • 400 pages

Kassabova writes with such energy and style that you feel she could visit the dullest place on earth and still make it burst into life

Philip Marsden

Kassabova is a brilliant traveller, an astonishing interviewer and a writer with near clairvoyant understanding of the real lives of men and women

Horatio Clare

From the deep labyrinths of the Balkan past, Kapka Kassabova has returned with another hoard of extraordinary lives, tales of survival, dark comedy and horror. Humanity glitters under her gaze in all its facets. Her prose is spectacularly good and her storytelling is a joy

Philip Marsden

The Author

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: Childhood and Other Misadventures in Bulgaria (2008) and Twelve Minutes of Love: A Tango Story (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, the Bread and Roses Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize, the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Awards (USA), and the Gordon Burn Prize. Her new book is To the Lake: A Balkan Journey of War and Peace (2020). She has written for the Guardian, Vogue, and 1843 magazine. kapka-kassabova.net

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In this special Edinburgh Book Festival edition of the Granta Podcast Laura Barber talks to Kapka Kassabova (Street Without a Name, Twelve Minutes of Love) and Peter Stamm (Seven Years) about the often paradoxical relationship between writing and place.

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Essays & Memoir | The Online Edition

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‘Last month, a plastic surgeon in Buenos Aires tried to seduce me.’