Troubled Water

Jens Mühling / Translated by Simon Pare



A brisk and brilliant tour.
The Telegraph

‘[Mühling] is an enjoyable and insightful companion
Times Literary Supplement

Troubled Water is not, in a conventional sense, a history book… but the book is an excellent introduction to a complex, heavily layered, bitterly contested and often rewritten past.
Wall Street Journal

Mühling makes for an observant and often wry travelling companion, conversant in several of the region’s languages
The Washington Post

Fresh, engaging and keenly observed.
Literary Review




In this brilliant and humane journey, Jens Mühling explores the nations, societies and minorities jostling passionately around the Black Sea.’
Neal Ascherson, author of Black Sea

Troubled Waters takes the reader on a fascinating journey along the patchworked coasts of The Black Sea … With learnedness and wry humour, Jens Mühling explores the harbours and coves of this famed, yet obscure body of water, masterfully rendering the vibrant colours and proportions of an ocean of epic events and of small, yet tall tales.’
Erika Fatland, author of The Border: A Journey Around Russia

‘It is impossible not to admire the way the author skims effortlessly around what must be one of the most fractious coastal circumferences in the world, dipping onshore at key locations to tease out its most telling stories … The net result is a 360 degree picture assembled from a jigsaw puzzle of humanity.’
Andrew Eames, author of Blue River, Black Sea

An exuberant travelogue that reveals the complex civilizations that surround the Black Sea … Simon Pare’s vibrant translation from the original German brings out the literary qualities of the prose.
Foreword Reviews


Dramatic conflicts, migrating populations, changing fortunes. Decades of political and cultural pressure under communism. The encroachment of climate change and globalisation. For centuries, the Black Sea has been at the centre of a shifting kaleidoscope of stories.

Visiting every country around the coast, Jens Mühling explores nations both ancient and nascent, connecting with local people and landscapes, following their stories, and discovering the startling sights of this multifaceted region. He portrays minority populations who vie proudly for respect and autonomy, and depicts a region of never-ending social and ecological transformation ― from gradual evolutions to the stark shockwaves of displacements and invasions. Ultimately, Mühling shows the peoples and places of this region are much like the sea around which they converge: restless, enigmatic, underestimated, and captivating.

JENS MÜHLING has worked as a foreign reporter for German newspapers and magazines for two decades. His features and essays on Eastern Europe have won him several awards, and his travelogue A Journey into Russia was shortlisted for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year award in 2015.

Read Jens’s interview with The Washington Post here.

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