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Book Title

To the Lake

A Balkan Journey of War and Peace
Author 1
Kapka Kassabova
Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa. Two ancient 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 historic crossroads. The lakes are set within the mountainous borderlands of North Macedonia, Albania, and Greece, and crowned by the old Via Egnatia, which once connected Rome to Constantinople. A former trading and spiritual nexus of the southern Balkans, this lake region remains one of Eurasia’s most diverse corners. 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 destinies shaped by the lakes. Setting out to resolve her own ancestral legacy, Kassabova locates a deeper inquiry into how geography and politics imprint themselves upon families and nations, one that confronts her with universal questions about human suffering and the capacity for change.

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The celebrated author of Border explores a mysterious, ancient, and little-understood corner of Europe

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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  • “This heartfelt exploration of the intersections between geography, history, and identity mesmerizes.”Publishers Weekly
  • “In lyrical, radiant prose, [Kapka Kassabova] recounts her journey to the lakes in a quest to understand the historical forces that shaped her family and her sense of self. . . . A haunting, captivating memoir of homecoming.”Kirkus Reviews, starred review
  • “Kassabova’s journey is . . . expansive. This, coupled with the raw candor of its many conversations, gives the book an undeniable pulse. Through its sincerity and profundity, To the Lake proves Kapka Kassabova’s to be one of Eurasia’s definitive literary voices.”World Literature Today
  • “By showing us the intricate ways in which human paths cross, Kassabova instills the image of kindness we need to show one another if we are to make it through the unexpected twists of fate. And just as the locals are never able to leave the lake, so the reader is bound to discover that they too will never be able to leave the book’s potent message behind.”Asymptote
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