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A Wild Pastoral
Author 1
Kapka Kassabova
In Anima, Kapka Kassabova introduces us to the “pastiri” people—the shepherds struggling to hold on to an ancient way of life in which humans and animals exist in profound interdependence. Following her three previous books set in the Balkans, and with an increasing interest in the degraded state of our planet and culture, Kassabova reaches further into the spirit of place than she ever has before. In this extraordinary portrayal of pastoral life, she investigates the heroic efforts to sustain the oldest surviving breeds of our domesticated animals, and she shows us the epic, orchestrated activity of transhumance—the seasonal movement, on foot, of a vast herd of sheep, working in tandem with dogs. She also becomes more and more attuned to the isolation and sacrifices inherent in the lives shaped by this work.
Weaving together lyrical writing about place with a sweeping sense of the traumatic histories that have shaped this mountainous region of Bulgaria, Kassabova shows how environmental change and industrial capitalism are endangering older, sustainable ways of living, and by extension she reveals the limited nature of so much of modern life. But shining through Kassabova’s passionate, intimate response to the monoculture that is “Anthropos” is her indelible portrait of a circulating interdependence of people and animals that might point to a healthier way to live.

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A dramatic evocation of the intimate bond between people and animals in one of Europe’s last wild places

About the Author

Kapka  Kassabova
Kapka Kassabova is a writer of narrative nonfiction, poetry, and fiction. She grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, and lives in the Scottish Highlands. She is the author of ElixirTo the Lake, and Border, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
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  • “In prose as fierce and beautiful as the landscapes and lifeways it describes, Anima documents the vanishing connection between people, dogs, sheep and wildlife that once tied together much of the ancient world. This book is at once a testament and a mending and a blessing, full of glory and sorrow, and characters both human and animal who you will never forget."—Sy Montgomery, author of On Time and Turtles: Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell
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