Meet the Writer: Nina Willner's "Forty Autumns"

 Nina Willner. Photo by Julia Forsman.

Nina Willner. Photo by Julia Forsman.

One of the greatest things about living in Istanbul is that you meet so many fascinating people. I don't know why that is—it's such a cliche that Istanbul is a crossroads, the "bridge between East and West", that those of us who live here roll our eyes every time someone says it.

It IS a crossroads, which is why so many interesting people pass through, but that doesn't explain why it's so ridiculously easy to meet some of them. I lived in New York for about the same amount of time I've lived in Istanbul, but it took me ten years in New York to meet the same number of people there that I meet here each month.

One such person is Nina Willner. When a call went out from PAWI for a meetup with this writer, I jumped at it.

Nina was generous and self-effacing when sharing how she came to write her book. The daughter of two remarkable survivors, she is a first-generation American who grew up to become a US army intelligence officer serving in Berlin during the Cold War. Wanting to know more about her extended family and fascinated by their story, her book is the result of her search for their history and her wish to honor it.

From her website:

"Twenty-five years after the fall of communism in Europe comes a true, inspiring story and a testament to the spirit of family bond in a story of five women in one family caught up in a Cold War drama: Sisters, mothers, daughters, cousins, separated by the Iron Curtain and a brutal regime that kept them apart. Against a historical backdrop, this is their story about their lives, their struggles and their unwavering efforts to sustain family ties in an environment that was anything but normal...

Set against one of the most dramatic periods of the twentieth century, Forty Autumns is a story of one family's courage, resilience and quiet defiance in the face of a bizarre totalitarian regime that kept its citizens isolated from the free world."

It's a fascinating story, and has gotten rave reviews. Available now in hardcover, as an audiobook, and on Kindle, the paperback version comes out on August 15th. It's next up on my reading list!