In the Valley at the End of Time
A search for a cure to what ails us in the Anthropocene by the award-winning author of Border
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.
About this Author
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 To the Lake and Border, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
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