Twelve Minutes of Love

Kapka Kassabova

Published: 5 July 2012
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 336 pages
ISBN: 9781846272851

About the author

Image of Kapka Kassabova

KAPKA KASSABOVA is a poet, novelist and writer of narrative non-fiction. She grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, and now lives in the Scottish Highlands. Her acclaimed memoirs Street Without a Name: Childhood and Other Misadventures in Bulgaria (2008) and Twelve Minutes of Love: A Tango Story (2011) were followed by Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe (2017) which won the British Academy's Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year, the Edward Stanford-Dolman Travel Book of the Year, and the inaugural Highlands Book Prize. It was short-listed for the Baillie-Gifford Prize, the Bread and Roses Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize, the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Awards (USA), and the Gordon Burn Prize. Her new book is To the Lake: A Balkan Journey of War and Peace (2020). She has written for the Guardian, Vogue, and 1843 magazine. More about the author


‘[Kassabova] skilfully weaves her evolution as a dancer around the history and meaning of the dance as well as around her private dramas ... Her narrative, bubbly and brisk as it is, will entertain fellow dancers and fans of tango music and fellow wanderers pursuing similar ends.’ Chris Moss



‘A mesmeric memoir of love, lust and tango ... Kassabova relishes the painful blisters as much as the seductive bliss.’

‘In prose as elegant and seductive as the tango itself, Kapka Kassabova leads us on a journey over time and across continents, above all a journey of the heart.’ Aminatta Forna

‘In utterly fluid prose, Kassabova brings new heights of perception to the twists and twines of tango. A very, very fine book.’ Mavis Cheek

‘Kapka Kassabova is consumed by her subject, and her book is all the better for it ... Warm, witty and deftly written, it's an unapologetically personal tale, but in it Kassabova reveals so much more about tango's allure and enigma than any more distanced study might.’ Lyndsey Winship

‘Kassabova wears her obvious intellect lightly and her writing style is akin to sitting across a wine glass from your most entertaining friend ... I reach the last page with a pang of sadness as I realise that, while I have sated my curiosity about tango, I'll miss this lively voice.’ Marissa Duffy

‘Kassabova's prose is steeped in the exquisite melancholy the Latin Americans call duende.Alfred Hickling

‘The depictions of place and character are sumptuous and intense, and overall Twelve Minutes of Love manages to be hilarious and moving, poignant and occasionally sublime.’ Doug Johnstone

‘This is a strangely moving book, Kassabova's sensibility running throughout the pages like a melancholy tango melody. The author is intelligent, sensitive and romantic, and colours the content with her own elegiac perspective. Nothing is under- or over-stated... Kassabova is expert at interspersing history with her personal life, the movement like the intricate dance steps of the tango. One seems to reinforce and shed light on the other [and] she has a perfect sense of timing. But above all this book is... an entertaining hymn to her individual addiction: to tango and to romantic love.’ Alice Thompson

‘This is a very good book indeed... She never overburdens her narrative and yet gives us a clear account of the history of tango and her own, often tear-filled, emotional journey on and off the dance floor. Kassabova gets the drug-like quality of tango across, with ferocious vividness... I find myself liking [her] a lot.’ Susan Jeffreys

‘This is more than a book about dancing. It is about people, places, movement, love, trouble, a journey. I was gripped... Read it and dance.’ Monique Roffey

‘This mix of travel writing, personal experience and history is something that Kassabova has done before and she's frankly brilliant at it. [This] is sharp, clever and engaging, a wonderful mix of self-deprecating humour and genuine insight.’ Doug Johnstone

‘Travel writing is dead. Long live great travel writing. Part travelogue, part memoir, this is a sexy step through the myths around tango and its physical, emotional and psychological layers. You will want to learn.’

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