About the book

About the book

Forget Russia is about three generations of Russian-American Jews journeying back and forth, throughout the twentieth century, between America and Russia, searching for some kind of home and, of course, finding something altogether different. It is a tale of love, murder, abandonment, and betrayal. In 1980, Anna, an American college student journeys to the Soviet Union to confront her family’s past. As Anna dodges date rapists, KGB agents, and smooth-talking marketeers while navigating an alien culture for the first time, she must come to terms with the aspects of the past that haunt her own life. With its insight into the everyday rhythms of an almost forgotten way of life behind Brezhnev’s Soviet Union, Forget Russia is a disquieting multi-generational epic about coming of age, forgotten history, and the loss of innocence in all of its forms.

Forget Russia Book Trailer

One by one, Anna will lift the tops from the Russian dolls starting from the original tragedy-the murder of her great-grandmother Zlata during a pogrom-to shed light on the destiny of three generations of women … In this dazzling choral novel, woven together over almost eighty years, the great grand-daughter triumphs in the challenge to reunite her family forever, calming their hearts beyond the centuries.
– Maia Brami, author of “All Yours”
Deep, moving and elegantly written, the book is a beautiful tribute to the interwovenness of human lives across time, space, generations. Lisa Bordetsky-williams skillfully lifts the veil omn life in the Soviet Union while remaining true to its secrets and mysteries. Its poetic prose and the delicate yet powerful storyline make it a page-turner that will, no doubt, leave no reader untouched.
– Maarja Kadajane, co-founder of the Constructive Journalism Institute

“Bordetsky-Williams’ personal quest to locate her dead ancestors and ‘find her path homeward’ chronicles the importance of remembering the atrocities Jews have often faced in countries they called home. Learning from the past, treasuring it, but insisting on not romanticizing those memories is a necessary challenge Anna must face . . . The power of storytelling allows Bordetsky-Williams to construct a timeline that weaves improbable interconnections between her characters with patterns of hate and anti-Semitism. In a time of certainty, Forget Russia presents an important reminder: Do not forget.”

– Sue Weston and David Dobkin, The Jewish Voice and Opinion

The analogy of Russian dolls is almost too easy, but I kind of want to use it, as Bordetsky-Williams has created a structure that really does feel like a puzzle being pieced together. The sense of the past rippling forward, pursuing the generations, is skillfully done: this novel is rich in echoes and resonance. In fact, it reminded me a lot of Heidi James’ brilliant novel, The Sound Mirror, in the way that it shows how trauma is passed down through generations. The focus is mostly on the women: Anna’s first-person narrative follows her search for answers about her family in Moscow in 1980, her attempts to understand the way in which the experiences of her family have shaped her. The tragedy of her great-grandmother’s rape and murder sets in motion a chain of voices, and with a lovely sense of movement through both time and space (journeys to and from America feature heavily in this novel), we are rocked towards a deeply satisfying conclusion.

There is so much to admire in Forget Russia: it is a novel that is more than the sum of its parts. It seems to take the genre of historical fiction and merge it with a kind of journalistic sensibility, adding in a dose of family memoir and self-exploration, so that while this may be fiction, it rings startlingly true. I love it when a book transports you to a time and place you know little about, and leaves you with a feeling of greater understanding, and Bordetsky-Williams’ novel delivers this sense in spades. Balancing the sweeping and the specific with expert skill, the author takes us on a journey that shines a light on a fascinating stretch of history, and on characters whose stories deserve to be remembered.

– Ellie Hawkes, Writer and Book Reviewer

This is a book that transports one to the soul of Russia. A young woman of Jewish Russian heritage goes to Moscow in 1980 to learn about both language and culture. There she makes friends, finds fleeting love, and slowly unravels the lives of her grandparents and her maternal great-grandmother.

She is moved by Russian music and Jewish community. She is able to sense and feel the longing and melancholy that seems to be intrinsic to the Russian soul despite centuries of impoverishment, cruelty, and failed political systems.

This novel moves seamlessly between time periods and you are immersed in a dark, dank world that yearns for a better life with better conditions but does not wish to relinquish the joys of deep friendship and family ties and an aesthetic of poetry, art, history, folk tunes, and religious worship.

I was immensely moved while reading this and became more and more immersed as this hazy beautiful but deeply melancholy novel took hold of my spirit and my own Slavic yearning ached.

– Jaidee, Reviewer for Goodreads
“One of the things which I found most impressive about the work was the narrative style, which perfectly balances the immersion into the scene via atmospheric details and clever exposition, with the presence of character, emotion, and interaction. We really get to know Anna and the family as the generations expand and, though the plot is filled with interesting twists, we never lose sight of the ‘Russian soul’ of the story, and the looming sense of dread and disquiet.”
– K.C. Finn, Reviewer for Readers’ Favorite

Readers and book club guide

The author has created a list of questions for your book club or group of readers.

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