Kapka Kassabova has won the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year for her latest book, Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe.
Scotland-based writer Kapka Kassabova last night lifted the prestigious Stanford Dolman Award for the Travel Book of the Year. Her book, Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe was shortlisted along with
Travels in a Dervish Cloak by Isambard Wilkinson (Eland)
Risingtidefallingstar by Philip Hoare (Fourth Estate)
Where the Wild Winds Are: Walking Europe’s Winds from the Pennines to Provence by Nick Hunt (Nicholas Brealey)
The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta by Kushanava Choudhury (Bloomsbury)
The Rule of the Land: Walking Ireland’s Border by Garrett Carr (Faber)
Islander: A Journey Around Our Archipelago by Patrick Barkham (Granta)
Members of the judging panel for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year were: Sara Wheeler (chair), Helena Drysdale, Jason Goodwin, Michael Kerr, Victoria Mather, Samantha Weinberg and Mary Novakovich
One of the judges, Mary Novakovich, described Kapa’s writing:
‘Bulgarian-born writer and poet Kapka Kassabova dexterously unpeels layer after layer of history in a highly fraught part of Europe that, as with Garrett Carr’s The Rule of the Land, has become topical once again. She crisscrosses the triangle of borders between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, starting in Bulgaria where, during her communist childhood, East Germans holidaying in Black Sea resorts unwittingly used deliberately misleading maps to try to flee through the forest and beyond the iron curtain. Now she sees Syrian refugees heading from south to north: “This was a year when refugees still came across the border in twos, rather than in hundreds and thousands.
Driving through mountain villages, Kassabova shows herself to be a master storyteller in her encounters with the dwindling number of people left behind – among them border guards whose job it had been to shoot escaping Czechs, Poles and East Germans. In this region of complex ethnicities, Kassabova is adept at unravelling the convoluted histories of the many population exchanges that have taken place since the collapse of the Ottoman empire and during the Balkan wars of 1912-13. Kassabova combines a dry, dark humour with compassion as she tracks down people who ended up on the wrong side of the barbed-wire fence. As a Bulgarian who ended up in Scotland via New Zealand, Kassabova is one to know about the dangers of nationalism along what she calls the “last border in Europe’