Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.
- What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?
Forget Russia was published by Tailwinds Press, December 2020. It is fiction, but some of my poetry actually begins each chapter.
- In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?
Forget Russia tells the story of three generations of Russian Jews, journeying back and forth from America to Russia, during the course of the twentieth century. From before the 1917 Revolution to Brezhnev’s Soviet Union, this is a tale of unlikely heroes and the loss of innocence. A significant portion of the novel focuses on an American Russian-Jewish family that returns to Leningrad in 1931, in a type of reverse migration, to build the Bolshevik Revolution. Forget Russia is a story of revolution, betrayal, murder, and love.
- What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?
- What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?
Kirkus Reviews writes about me, “She is an experienced writer, and that shows in the craft and passion behind this story.” The Kirkus Review goes on to say that Forget Russia “is a strong, stirring tale about a Russian family’s travails.” Forget Russia has also been selected as an Editor’s Choice Book for the May 2021 issue of Historical Novels Review.
- What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]
I’d like to think of Forget Russia as Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak meets The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston.
- Why this book? Why now?
Given all of the anti-immigrant and anti-refugee rhetoric flooding the country and the world, the book is now more relevant than ever. Forget Russia also chronicles the devastating effects of a hate crime across the subsequent generations of women, in particular. It looks at inherited violence and trauma. Sadly, we are seeing a frightening rise in hate crimes in this country, and we need books that in their essence speak of the long lasting and devastating effects of these crimes.
- Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?
I have been working as a college professor for many years, and I do love teaching. I also loved the job I had working in a supermarket deli slicing up the meats when I was in high school.
- What do you want readers to take away from the book?
In every family there is an unlikely hero who may have saved the family through her quiet courage. Oftentimes she remains unrecognized and unacknowledged. I’d like readers to look at their families for an ancestor who may have saved them all.
- What food and/or music do you associate with the book?
Ever since my student days in Moscow when I lived there for four months in 1980, I fell in love with the taste of beets. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. The smells and tastes of a slightly sweet bread is another taste I associate with Russia. I have never actually found that precise taste again. In terms of music, I think of a plaintive folk song that speaks of wandering and searching over many years for a home.
- What book(s) are you reading currently?
I’m currently reading Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. I’m also rereading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse.
Learn more about Lisa on her website.
Check out the trailer for the book.