My books

Travels in Blood and Honey

Signal Books, 2011

 

Kosovo: the name conjures up blood: ethnic cleansing and war. This book reveals another side to the newest country in Europe — a land of generous families, strong tastes and lush landscapes: a land of honey.

Geraldine Doogue of Australia’s ABC Radio National described the book as being ‘about bee keeping, belonging and the business of politics but it’s also a book rich with history and recipes, and insights about language and learning.’

The Times calls it ‘a sheer delight; a beguiling, bittersweet story of a lively love affair with a traditional world, as ancient as apiculture, in transition to new nationhood’

Elbow Publishing, 2013

 

In 1900, Europe’s last wilderness was explored by a most unlikely champion, a stout, stubborn Englishwoman who travelled in her tam o’shanter across the Accursed Mountains into Kosovo. Edith Durham was dubbed ‘Queen of the Highlanders’ by the Albanians who honoured her for her anthropological writing, her humanitarian aid and her tireless lobbying for their cause.

One hundred years later, Elizabeth Gowing came to Kosovo and also fell in love with the country.  Elizabeth unravels Edith’s story through archives and museum collections in Britain and retraces Edith’s steps in Kosovo, learning from her the secrets of the harem, and from monks the treasures of Unesco World Heritage Site monasteries, She finds not only an Edwardian heroine but also a guide to her own very twenty-first century dilemma.

Elbow Publishing, 2015

 

This is a true story of living and learning - being confused and comforted - with the excluded Ashkali people of Kosovo; an account of what happens when you find your community but it's a long way from home.

Hatemja, a rubbish-picker's wife, lives in the poorest community in the poorest country in Europe. When Elizabeth Gowing is befriended by her, the women learn with, from and about one another. How can you find the best rubbish pastures for scavenging? How can you free children to go to school rather than to go out begging? Can mayonnaise deal with headlice? How would Facebook help evacuate a family from a rat-infested hovel? How do you make baklava? And through it all, how do you maintain a precious friendship that's helped you find out the best you can be?

Unlikely Positions in Unlikely Places: a yoga journey around Britain

Elbow Publishing, 2017

 

From the mines in the cantos of Dante, to the prizes stolen in the wars of the 'nineties, a silver thread winds through Balkan history. This book unravels its most intricate tanglings from the incongruous filigree fashion show in the Albanian highlands to the serious Yugoslav-era silver schools. En route we visit those who live from lifting the silver from the earth, craftsmen from Istanbul to Kosovo who produce lacy creations from dull sticks of raw material, impoverished collectors who've sold their homes in order to preserve exquisite pieces of jewellery when their governments won't bother, and a brave new generation of women working fragile miracles with hard metals to secure their independence.

Bradt, 2019

 

Elizabeth Gowing is not a likely yogini. She is too fond of cake and To-do lists, and sometimes falls over on her mat.

But yoga has taken her on journeys both inside and out, and in this book Elizabeth travels around Britain to join others who practise it.

Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, Unlikely Positions in Unlikely Places tells of Elizabeth’s adventures with her rucksack in 21 British yoga classes, and the characters met along the way. It’s a story of ancient wisdom solving modern-day problems, as well as the exultation of finally mastering the Crow.


 

My agent is Jennifer Barclay

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