Travel memoir about Bulgaria from Edinburgh-based scribe
This article is from 2008.
Kapka Kassabova likes to travel. You can tell, because the writer’s accent is all over the place: there’s Eastern European, Antipodean and a hint of Scottish in there as she chats away. Kassabova was raised in Bulgaria before living in New Zealand for ten years. These days she is based in Edinburgh, working as a travel writer, a job which satisfies her wanderlust and which led to her latest work, a part-memoir, part-travel book entitled Street Without a Name.
‘I returned to Bulgaria to research a travel guide,’ she says. ‘It was strange doing research in the country I grew up in. It became a homecoming of sorts, a very emotionally loaded experience that was the trigger for the book.’ Bulgaria remains a country in flux, coming to terms with capitalism and freedom, and Kassabova’s excellent memoir contrasts her experiences growing up during the Cold War with the turmoil of today. ‘You have more clarity of vision with a bit of distance,’ she says. ‘So I think I see things the locals don’t see.’
Organised crime is rife these days, and Kassabova’s book is unflinching and unsentimental, something she fears will not endear her to those living there today. ‘I’ve received amazingly emotional emails from ex-pats, but people living there will be less thankful because it’s a very critical book. Small countries are very sensitive about their image.’ As for Bulgaria’s future, Kassabova remains unsure. ‘I want to be optimistic,’ she laughs grimly. ‘It can only get better, I suppose.’
13 Aug (with Kate Clanchy), 11am, £9 (£7).