Europe’s Futures Fellow 2020/21


People of the Mountain: Stories from a Balkan Ecosystem

Kapka Kassabova proposed to research and write four pieces as part of the research for a book in progress, Elixir. They focus on life in mountain villages in southern Bulgaria as microcosms of a geopolitically and economically marginalized Europe today, asking urgent questions about inequality and double standards, and what this says about the much-vaunted European values. Among them, “What are the connections between environmental and human health, cultural syncretism and its relationship to tolerance, and is there such a thing as a modern European quasi-slave labor market?”


Kapka Kassabova is a writer of narrative prose and poetry. The exploration of place is central to her work, with a focus on the intimate relationship between people and their environment. She is completing a quartet where each book delves into a particular region of the southern Balkans: Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe (2017), To The Lake: A Balkan Journey of War and Peace (2020), Elixir: In the Valley at the End of Time (2023), and the upcoming Anima (2024). Her work has been translated into most major European languages. Her reviews and essays have appeared in The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Times Literary Supplement, The Sunday Times, The Economist, and The New Statesman, among others. She is a member of the jury panels of the Prix Jan Michalski in Switzerland and the Highland Book Prize in Scotland.