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Street Without a Name: Childhood and Other Misadventures in Bulgaria

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  385 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Kassabova was born in Sofia, Bulgaria and grew up under the drab, muddy, grey mantle of one of communism's most mindlessly authoritarian regimes. Escaping with her family as soon as possible after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, she lived in Britain, New Zealand, and Argentina, and several other places. But when Bulgaria was formally inducted to the European Union she dec ...more
Hardcover, 337 pages
Published 2008 by Portobello Books
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Metodi Markov
Книгата на Капка Касабова може да се раздели условно на четри части:

1. Соц детство в Младост 3 и Павликени/Сухиндол, авторката е постоянно влюбена, в кой ли не. :)
С нея сме набори почти, само дето аз съм израстнал в центъра на София. Съответно детството ни е почти идентично и според мен достоверно описано.

2. Малък намек за емиграцията и за живота в емиграция.

3. Кратка история на Балканите и в частност на България от XX век. Неточно и елементарно предадена, с глупави реверанси към определени съб
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
If Ireland has Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes," Bulgaria has this by Ms. Kapka Kassabova. She was born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1973 and grew up amidst the hardships of a communist country controlled by a totalitarian regime. At the age of 16 her family managed to emigrate to New Zealand. She did some more travelling before finally settling in Edinburgh, Scotland. Written with exceptional poignancy and wry humor, You'll learn more about Bulgaria reading this than actually going there and looking a ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Kapka Kassabova grew up in Bulgaria under the Communist regime, immigrating to New Zealand in 1991, at the age of 19. In the years after her departure, she returned to the country several times to visit older relatives and to sightsee. The first part of this book is a solid 4-star memoir about her childhood; the rest documents her travels and earns 2.5 or 3 stars. Unfortunately, the travel section is the longer, so I’m rounding down.

The memoir immediately captured my attention with stories of li
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Street Without A Name by Kapka Kassabova

A must-read for anyone interested in Bulgaria, Street Without A Name tracks the
emotional and physical journies experienced by the author as she revisits the land of her birth soon after its entry to the European Union.

Glimpses into her childhood and teens years under communist rule are written with
passion but never sentimentality against a backdrop of cuttingly outlined history. We see both the big picture and the small one: a forced exodus described
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: new-zealand, bulgaria
Memoir, history book, travelogue: this book is written with clarity, honesty, sentiment (not sentimentality), and humor. It's beautifully-written. The family stories are touching. The history portions scratch the surface of huge gaps in my knowledge. And the sections devoted to Kassabova's country of Bulgaria had me googling images of almost every place she mentions. In fact it would be nice if there were a map in this book for easy reference.

Between Hotel Drustur and the Golden Dobrudzha, I hav
Rositsa Zlatilova
Street Without a Name is a pure memoir book.

The first half of it reads easily, not to say that you flow through the pages. It is an interesting sneak in how a young, also obviously quite switch-on, person felt about the surrounding environment in the 1980-90s, on the threshold of the collapse of the communist regime.

The second part of the book is another story, though; not to say that it's nowhere near my literary taste. Party the reason might be because I am Bulgarian and have basic knowledge o
Oct 17, 2009 rated it liked it
I'd give this book 3 1/2 stars.

"Street With No Name" is a very interesting and very personal memoir of Kapka Kassabova's childhood in Bulgaria, and a travelogue chronicling several return trips to visit relatives and discuss the sights. The author appears to have also written a travel guidebook, probably during those same trips, and this book reads more like a diary of those trips. The first part mostly describes her growing up in Sofia, discussing her life in school, various activities such as
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Аз пък израстнах в Учиндол откъдето е и плешивия. Също на улица бец име.
Да бях написал книга, баси.
Ilona lalova
Jul 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
The book is very engaging, especially for those of us who lived through that period in communist and post-communist Bulgaria. The first part is amazing, it reflects to the tiniest details the absurdity of everyday life during the 70s and 80s. It made me cry more than few times. The second part is definitely engaging too, even though I felt it was a little rushed and forced at times. I like Kapka Kassabova's sense of humor even though I think some of its beauty was lost in the translation.
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: global-read-read
Really enjoyed this trip through Bulgaria.
The author gives a fantastic tour of her country, in a writing style that is easy to read, yet full of emotion and pathos.
Dominique Van Hoesel
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
'We were living inside George Orwell's 1984 but we didn't know it because it was on the list of banned books'.

As a ' Western European', my knowledge about living under a communist regime was based on the limited education on this topic during high school. This book has been an eye-opener, told by someone that has been on both sides of the fence. Funny anecdotes are interspersed by troubled stories and make up for a read that keeps you entertained throughout the book. I'm certainly interested in
Pei Pei
The best part of this book was the fact that the author grew up in the neighborhood I live in, so I recognized many of the streets and local landmarks she references (hey, there's a photo of our McDonald's!). Other than this novelty factor, though, this book really paled in comparison to other Bulgarian books I've read (and international coming-of-age stories in general - Persepolis comes to mind as a similar story but is far better), not only in quality of writing but also, ironically, in givin ...more
Jul 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: travel fans
Shelves: travel
This book is part autobiographic and part travel. The author grew up in communist Bulgaria and left, along with her family, after the fall of communism. The first third of the book is about what it was like to grow up in communist Bulgaria. The rest of the book is about how capitalism has affected Bulgaria, told through a series of return visits over the years, visiting family and friends. She writes about poverty, corruption and change, some of it good, and some of it very depressing.

I enjoyed
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Eh, I don't think this book was for me. I felt like I was reading blah, blah, blah. Some of it was interesting, but I am not one to enjoy a book about finding oneself and I think a lot of this book was about that.
Faruk Šehić
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
beautiful, moving, with subtle irony, intelligent book.
Kapka Kassabova grew up on the outskirts of Sofia during the last years of Cold War Communism in the 1980s until she left as soon as she could. As Bulgaria gets ready to join the EU (the country joined 1 January 2007) Kapka Kassabova returns to her home country, to retrace her childhood steps and discover what’s become of the country, and discovers how much both it – and she – has changed.

Street Without a Name is a mixture of a personal memoir and a study of country’s history. As Kassabova state
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A moving, emotional memoir on the authors life growing up in Bulgaria and her return to the country as an adult. Kapka Kassabova writes with emotion ranging from sadness to moments of humour as she recounts life under the Communist regime in Bulgaria and the legacy of the Communist regime on the country. What I found refreshing about Kassabova's work was the hope breaking through the grey oppression of communism and the corruption that followed it. The book itself is broken into two parts. First ...more
Anthony Stancomb
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the book i can recommend as an enlightening introduction to Bulgaria, and quite he best travel/memoir i have read for a long time.
The book works on many levels -as a memoir of her life, as a historical document and as a series of stories of people in her family or just people she meets during her return to the country. These stories reflect the state of ordinary citizens under communism and how the shadow cast by those years darkens their existence today.
It is beautifully written with a
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked this book but it's not as good as her later book on Bulgaria, Boarders. It's a memoir of life in Communist Bulgaria from the 1970s to 1990 combined with her return travels there when Bulgaria joined the EU. She combines the narratives of several return trips to the same places so that occasionally it's hard to follow exactly when events are taking place. The sections on her life in Communist Bulgaria are uniformly strong, the parts on her return visits all around the country are less foc ...more
Jane Drake
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A memoir with interesting specifics on life in Bulgaria, but expressing emotions that will be familiar to anyone who has moved from their childhood home and returns as an adult.
Isabel Hollingum
Dec 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: university
I found a lot to enjoy in this text especially due to my own shameful ignorance surrounding Bulgaria and a lot of Eastern European countries. Not an easy read, but a rewarding one.
Laura Walker
Book of two halves. First, autobiographical part, was excellent. Second, meandering travelogue/history of Bulgaria, left me cold.
John F. Schultz
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I knew nothing about Bulgaria. Met a girl from these and wanted to understand her life experiences more. Great way to gain insight into life experiences of those from there.
Cailin Deery
Aug 24, 2012 rated it liked it
I did a bit of searching (then digging) ahead of a work trip to Bulgaria, looking for the already-familiar to build upon (Politicians? Authors? Artists? Film? Major historical events? Anyone of note, for better or worse?), but found very little. (Though did terrorize myself by watching a bunch of Ross Kemp documentaries) In answer to that, I picked up Street Without a Name: part memoir of a girl growing up in Sofia, and part travelogue as she comes back an expat years later. Kassabova’s project ...more
Jen Crichton
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it
This is the account of the author’s childhood in the late 1970s and 1980s growing up in communist Bulgaria, before she and her family left in 1990 when she was 17, and then her travels some 15 years later, when she returns to the country of her birth a number of times to sightsee and visit family, as Bulgaria is in the process of joining the European Union. The book is roughly divided in half between her childhood and present day travels in Bulgaria with interesting contrasts between communism a ...more
Moushumi Ghosh
I loved Kapka Kassabova's poetry and was flirting with the idea of studying them for my PhD. Hence, I wanted to read about her childhood. This was an ideal starting place. She wrote it herself even though she admits that it is a fictionalised retelling of her childhood. What isn't a constructed when we look back? Memory is treacherous anyway. So whatever we 'remember' is a construction in any case.

Somewhere in the middle of the book, my attention flagged and I read several others books before I
Maria Rousseva
May 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
In terms of books about Bulgaria, this is a definite top choice. Unlike its cousins, it does not focus on the statistical history of the country, but on the emotional memories of an author who, for decades, has dismissed her home country. This is beneficial in the essence that it provides a fresh, meaningful point of view of not only this great, but forgotten, country’s history, but also the people and state of living in the country itself, which is often bypassed. This memoir, in relation to ot ...more
Sharm Alagaratnam
Dec 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Kapka Kassabova took the long way round to Edinburgh, growing up in Bulgaria and with pit stops in Essex and Dunedin, New Zealand, apparently without losing her sense of humour on the way. The Guardian has an excerpt of her book, below. Bulgaria is a place I know far too little about, and Kassabova seems to be just the person to hold my hand while I learn. I've already sent a pleading email to the library to buy a copy. This sounds like a book they definitely need!

Kapka Kassabova grew up in 1980
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really interesting and enjoyable memoir of growing up in Bulgaria in the 70s and 80s and then revisiting it later after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Kapka Kassabova is an engaging and inventive writer with an eye for quirky detail, original and evocative description, and a highly readable blend of the personal, political and historical. She weaves in heaps of information about the various shifts in power not just in her lifetime but over the centuries – Romans, Ottomans, Bulgars, Turks, Greeks, ...more
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had picked up this book at local library somewhat reluctantly. But it did not disappoint me. These are memoirs of a girl who spent her growing life in Stalinist/communist Bulgaria.

It shows the ugliness of communism when (most of the times?) it does not work. Along the way, one learns about Bulgaria’s history -500 yrs of Ottoman Turk domination, Balkan geopolitics including Macedonia being a part of Bulgaria etc., communist regime’s persecution, renaming of Turkish minority, atmosphere of drea
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Kapka Kassabova was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria in the 1970s and 1980s. Her family emigrated to New Zealand just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and she spent her late teens and twenties in New Zealand where she studied French Literature, and published two poetry collections and the Commonwealth-Writers Prize-winner for debut fiction in Asia-Pacific, Reconnaissance.

In 2004, Kapka moved
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“I chose to see emigration and globe-trotting as an escape, not as a loss. Nowhere to call home? No problem, the world is my oyster. Where are you from, they ask. Does it matter, I answer.
But it does. Because how can you truly know yourself, and how can you know other place and people, if you don't even know where you come from?”
“Where do nations begin? In airport lounges, of course. You see them arriving, soul by soul, in pre-activation mode. They step into no man's land, with only their passports to hold onto, and follow the signs to the departure gate. There, among the impersonal plastic chairs and despite themselves, they coalesce into the murky Rorschach stain of nationhood.” 2 likes
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