Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe

10 CDs. 12 hrs. HighBridge. Sept. 2017. ISBN 9781681687971. $39.99. digital download. MEMOIR
Memoirist, poet, and novelist Kassabova (Street Without a Name) offers a sensitive rendition of her trip back to her homeland of Bulgaria. As a child, the borders among Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey symbolized freedom from oppression and escape to Western culture. She gives a meandering description of how the past and present have merged with the event of the Syrian refugee crisis. In all times she describes, borders represent possibility, hope, and despair. Kassabova sympathetically tells the stories of those who live along these borders, whether they are trying to pass them, or to maintain their cultures' long traditions. Turkish and Greek cultures are dreamily explored via archaeology, myth, and history. The stories are mostly those of men; women remain in the background, while Kassabova stands out as an oddity, a woman traveling alone. Corrie James reads the book in a lilting, wistful tone, carrying the listener along through the nonlinear narrative. James's pacing is perfect, as is her palpable confusion and discomfort when faced with long-held chauvinistic and racist beliefs.
VERDICT While lengthy, the production keeps one's attention because of the large cast of unique characters, the information on a little-known part of the world, and the universal theme of migration. Recommended for most collections. [A National Book Critics Circle 2018 nominee.]

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