In the Valley at the End of Time


Elixir is a journey in search of a cure, a journey shaped by one river and three mountains. Kapka Kassabova takes us to the valley of the Mesta river, where the surrounding forests and mountains are a nexus for wild plant gatherers. Through the prism of the valley, exploring the deep connections between people, plants and place, she finds a story with vast resonance for us all.

Over several seasons, Kassabova spends time with the people of this region. She meets women and men who work in a long lineage of foragers, healers and mystics. She discovers wild plants and their uses, the ancient practice of herbalism in which they are rooted, and 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 this population has suffered. Yet, in her search for elixir, Kassabova also finds reasons for hope. The people of the valley are keepers of a rare knowledge, not only about wild plants and their properties, but about how to transform suffering into healing.

Immersive and enthralling, at its heart Elixir is a search for a cure to what ails us in the Anthropocene. It is an urgent and unforgettable call to rethink how we live - in relation to one another, to the Earth, and to the cosmos.

About the author

Kapka Kassabova

Kapka Kassabova is a writer of narrative non-fiction, poetry, and fiction. She grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, was university educated in New Zealand, and since 2005 has lived in Scotland. In Border (2017) and To The Lake (2020) she explores the human geography of the southern Balkans. Border won the 2018 British Academy Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, the Edward Stanford Dolman Book of the Year, the 2017 Saltire Society Book of the Year, the 2018 Highland Book Prize, and a number of European awards. To the Lake was awarded France's Best Foreign Book of Non-Fiction in 2021, and her work is translated into twenty languages. Her earlier books of non-fiction are the tango memoir Twelve Minutes of Love (2011) and the childhood memoir Street Without a Name (2008).
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