Based on recorded conversations Lisa Cooper’s father had with his mother, Pearl, about her early life in Ukraine, A Forgotten Land is the story of one Jewish family in the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, set within the wider context of pogroms, World War I, the Russian Revolution, and civil war. Many Jewish immigrants to the West refused to talk about the ‘old country’, choosing to forget the unhappy times, not to pass on their memories. Lisa is fortunate that her grandmother was a great storyteller. Her father, who grew up in Canada surrounded by these tales of shtetl life, later made recordings of these stories in the 1970s, before Pearl died. Lisa asked her father to translate the recordings (from the Yiddish) before he himself passed away, and turned them into a book so that we, today, can better understand how our ancestors lived.
Lisa Cooper is a British writer, journalist and artist, who is visiting America for a family reunion. She studied Russian at Edinburgh University and spent a year in the Soviet Union as a student. Armed with an address dating from the 1960s and a family tree, she made contact with cousins in Kiev, then part of Soviet Ukraine, who introduced her to a web of relatives she knew nothing about. The experience helped breed an interest in both family history and Ukrainian Jewish history. Her book was originally conceived as a dissertation for a Master’s degree in Russian History.