Kapka Kassabova on Europe’s last nomadic pastoralists

Kapka Kassabova

Kapka Kassabova is the most interesting new writer in the travel literature genre. 

I use the term “new” in the sense of my own reading. I mostly read older books, or new books by older writers, because so little of what’s being published today seems relevant beyond the present moment. I think Kapka’s work will stand the test of time.

She was born and raised in Cold War Bulgaria. Her family emigrated to New Zealand after the Berlin Wall fell, and it was there that she became a published poet. Her poet’s eye continues to infuse her prose.

She writes about marginal places, and the interdependence of humans and animals in traditional societies. 

In her last four books, she has made the Balkans her subject — a region I love visiting for its rugged geography and people. 

Kapka is the author of Border, To The Lake, Elixir, and Anima: A Wild Pastoral. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement, Vogue, The Sunday Times, The Scottish Review of Books and on BBC Radio. 

You can read more about her on her website.

We spoke about nomadic pastoralism as a vanishing way of life, the interdependence of humans and animals, and what it’s like to live as a shepherd in a vertical world.

These are the books we mentioned in the podcast:

We also mentioned:

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About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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