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Book Title


In the Valley at the End of Time
Author 1
Kapka Kassabova
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.

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A search for a cure to what ails us in the Anthropocene by the award-winning author of Border

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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  • "A radiant memoir of wonder and revelation."—KIRKUS (starred review)
  • "Kassabova's narrative loops and wanders, moving from plant-based healers to the plants themselves and other natives who call the Mesta basin home. Those who enter will be willing to get lost in this beautiful and aromatic maze, in which they will find rich and sumptuous wonders."—Poornima Apte, Booklist
  • “I’ve rarely been so aware of an internal change being wrought, word by word, as I have these past days immersed in Kapka Kassabova’s alchemical prose.”—The Guardian (UK)

    “In her new book, Kapka Kassabova immerses herself in the remote Mesta valley in north east Bulgaria, telling the stories of a people suffering cultural and ecological disinheritance.”The Scotsman (UK)

    "Kassabova conjures up an entire history with a single, sensitive observation. Her prose is precise, yet still able to communicate a sense of wonder."The Times Literary Supplement (UK)

    "Kassabova’s call to her reader to ‘remember how to make ourselves whole’ is not prescriptive, but is a heartfelt plea to reclaim our spiritual, physical and emotional unity with nature."—Beshara Magazine

    "Somehow, in an alchemical process that involves stirring together vast knowledge of plants, history, spirituality, magic and local folklore, Kassabova has mastered the art of tying together the inner and outer landscapes of southern Bulgaria."—Books from Scotland
  • "Elixir is the latest example of Kapka Kassabova’s knack for sensory and poignant nonfiction. Her previous books, Border and To the Lake, were two unforgettable adventures brimming with rich history and beautiful characters. Elixir marks another step forward as her most immersive and organic work yet."—World Literature Today
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