About the book
About the book
Forget Russia Book Trailer
“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
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.
Readers and book club guide
The author has created a list of questions for your book club or group of readers. Click here to download.