Kapka Kassabova is a young Bulgarian émigré poet who writes in English but with a European imagination. Her well-travelled poems speak from different parts of the world and different moments of history, but they always speak of the many ways to be lost and disoriented: in a place, in the past, in fear, in love, in the very quickness of life.
The voices speaking here – from a Roman housewife to a Chinese bar-owner in Berlin or an Argentine DJ – are the voices of the heart-sick, the culturally jet-lagged, people from photographs, the “tenants” of lives, cities and destinies. This is what we all are, have been, or will be.
Kapka Kassbova’s Someone else’s life (2003) was widely acclaimed:
‘Kassabova’s achievement is to make the émigré life a metaphor inclusive of more general alienation…The evidence of a major talent is unmistakable’ – Chris Miller, PN Review.
‘This much-travelled volume is always, even in several striking love poems, a record of alienation from the “valley strewn with garbage and roses” of her homeland. This doubled sensibility is at once new and accomplished, direct and complex’ – Fiona Sampson, Poetry Review
‘In the suitcase that she has mentally lived out of since she was a little girl, Kapka Kassabova has brought the turbulent memories of 20th century European history with her to New Zealand, where she recollects bad dreams in comparative tranquillity, and always with the phrasing of a born musician. If her finely pitched lyricism is the first thing that strikes you, the second is the richness of sympathy that lies behind it. As if she owed her gifts and blessings to them, she speaks for the generations before her whose lives were ruined. The result is a truly international picture of what it means to be young and sensitive in the modern world. In a short life, she has already established a unique literary identity’ – Clive James.
'Someone else’s life tells with supreme clarity and fearless candor what it means to be adrift in the last years of the 20th century and the first of the 21st; it is a book of perpetual exile, of endless comings and goings, in a world that offers neither stability, nor salvation. Still, the very intelligence of this book – skeptical, riveting, passionate – suggests that there may be an answer to the uncertainty that is everywhere around us' – Mark Strand.
Currently unavailable: reprint under consideration