My book and author video is featured on “Women You Should Know,” which is “a community all about dynamic women… our drive and passion, our interesting stories and professional talents, what we care about, what we consume and how we live.” Check it out: http://www.womenyoushouldknow.net/
Minneapolis Star Tribune (3/4/12)
SWIMMING IN THE DAYLIGHT
By Lisa C. Paul (Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 285 pages, $24.95)
In December 1985, a University of Minnesota student named Lisa Paul went on a 25-day hunger strike to bring attention to the plight of Inna Meiman in Moscow. Meiman, who had a cancerous growth on her neck, was convinced that if she could get medical treatment in the West she would get well. The problem: Meiman was Jewish and the wife of a Soviet scientist. In “Swimming in the Daylight,” Paul tells the story of her unlikely friendship with Meiman, who was her Russian language tutor when she lived in the Soviet Union as a nanny for an American family. Teacher and pupil, sitting in Meiman’s Moscow kitchen, became close friends, talking about their lives, their dreams, their families and about the incomprehensible stranglehold the Soviet government had on its citizens. Paul’s hunger strike in Minneapolis gave urgency and energy to a growing movement in Congress that put pressure on the Soviets on behalf of the Meimans and other Soviet refuseniks. For those too young to remember the brutal realities of the Communist superpower, this memoir of hope, courage and love reveals an inhumane system that spied on citizens and persecuted people only because they were Jews longing for freedom and human dignity.
- PAMELA HUEY, NEWS COPY EDITOR
* * *
January 12, 2012: I was named by the Archdiocese Milwaukee’s Catholic Herald as one of the ten most inspiring people of 2011. A great honor and a great way to start 2012. Here’s the link: http://www.chnonline.org/news/
local/ 10896-10-most-inspiring-people- of-2011.html
* * *
December 9, 2011: A wonderful review in the “Jerusalem Post”:
A memoir about a brave, doomed refusenik and her courageous American friend.
Photo by: Courtesy of the kitrossky family
Moscow in the 1980s was a grim and dangerous place where talking to an American on the street was enough to attract the unwanted attention of the KGB. This is where Lisa Paul, then a University of Minnesota coed, came to work for two years as a nanny for an American businessman’s children.
It’s not clear why Paul, a devout Catholic, took an interest in Russian language and culture. But it is clear from her book that the education she received abroad was not at all what she expected.
“I began my stay in Moscow on the side of left-leaning peace activists in the United States,” she writes. “I was optimistic and believed [in] the simplistic notion that if the American and Russian people came to know and understand each other, we could peacefully coexist. But one experience after another during my second year in Moscow chipped away at that optimism.”
Her Russian-language tutor, Inna Kitrosskaya Meiman, turned out to be a Jewish dissident. Paul became an activist on behalf of Meiman, who was refused permission to get cancer treatment in any of the countries that offered to pay for her trip and medical care – most likely as punishment for her refusenik husband Naum’s participation in the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group.
It is from Meiman that the book gets its title. She shared with Paul, and later with the world, a folktale about a fish so scared of a certain undersea predator that it dares not leave its hiding place during the daytime hours for fear of being caught. Meiman, then 51, was determined to “swim in the daylight” no matter the cost.
In addition to Meiman, Paul befriended several young Russians despite the danger involved, and their stories also opened Paul’s eyes to their Orwellian reality. In fact, her first act of derringdo “in the land that’s the exact opposite of everything we are and everything we know” was helping a friend’s mother secure a copy of George Orwell’s 1984.
The woman, a reviewer at the Soviet institute of censorship, had mislaid the book. If the loss were discovered, she would have been fired, evicted and sent to jail. As Orwell’s books were banned in the USSR, buying a replacement was impossible. Paul arranged to receive a copy her mother mailed in Minnesota to an acquaintance at the American Embassy.
At one point, Paul even considered a sham marriage to Gary, a young black marketer, to get him safely to the United States. Meiman and others dissuaded her. Gary successfully feigned mental illness to get out of serving with the Soviet army in Afghanistan, but his story did not end happily.
Sadly, neither did Meiman’s.
While still in Russia, Paul helped arrange for Meiman (who was already well known to US diplomats and politicians such as Colorado Sen. Gary Hart) to be interviewed by an American reporter. That taped interview proved pivotal in bringing Meiman’s plight to the masses.
Back in Minnesota, Paul embarked on a 25-day hunger strike in an attempt to expedite a solution to Meiman’s desperate situation. The ensuing publicity brought Paul many speaking engagements and ultimately took her to Washington, where she worked with the Soviet Jewry movement and government officials to get Meiman a visa.
But diplomacy is and was a painfully slow process, particularly in pre-Internet days. By the time Meiman arrived at Washington’s Georgetown University Hospital in 1987, it was much too late. She died within a few weeks, and to make matters worse she died without her husband, whose release the Americans could not obtain. Probably as a result of press reports surrounding Meiman’s death, he soon got permission to emigrate to Israel, as did her son, Lev.
The ever-optimistic Meiman nevertheless felt she had won an important victory. As she wrote to Hart, “The hospital is just beautiful, but that is not the most important thing. The most important thing is the sensation of being among friends, of being cared for and about.”
She received many visitors, including former dissidents such as Anatoly (Natan) Sharansky, who’d been freed only the year before. She savored feeling that “for the first time in my life, I did not have to look over my shoulder with worry the KGB might barge in.”
At Meiman’s funeral, former ABCNews Moscow bureau chief Anne Garrels (now with National Public Radio) told the folktale about the fish.
“Anne made the point that Inna had been swimming freely in the daylight long before she left the Soviet Union and that it was her great triumph to be free in America before she died,” writes Paul.
This first-person memoir about a brave, doomed refusenik and her courageous American friend is a welcome addition to the body of literature about an unfathomably cruel regime that destroyed its own people. Paul’s unusually sharp powers of recollection make this bleak period in modern history come alive.
Nov. 9, 2011: Article in the Evergreen, CO “Canyon Courier”
I spoke to a group of high schoolers in Colorado about making a difference, at any age. View the article here.
September 11, 2011: The Alan Eisenberg Show
I was on the Alan Eisenberg show on WRJN radio on Sunday night. Here is a link to the podcast..
June 6, 2011: Here’s a review of my book by the Jewish Book World:
May 20, 2011: Here’s a link to the podcast of my interview with Jean Feraca on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Here on Earth”- http://www.wpr.org/hereonearth/archive_110518k.cfm
May 13, 2011: Three organizations have recommended my book: Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Human Rights First, and the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.
April 26, 2011: Presentation at the Kennan Institute’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC
April 11, 2011: I love the illustration with this article!Freeing Inna – the gift of hope | Features| Marquette Magazine
March 17, 2011: Baltimore Jewish Times – Jewish Book Review | Swimming in the Daylight: An American Student, a Soviet Dissident and the Gift of Hope
March 17, 2011: CitiGal Magazine gave a wonderful endorsement and review of Swimming in the Daylight. Read the article here.
March 16, 2011: Brian T. Olszewski of The Catholic Herald wrote a moving feature article on Swimming in the Daylight. Thank you, Brian!Read the article here.
March 15, 2011: My television debut! Check it out at www.mptv.org
March 10, 2011:The Minnesota Daily featured a full-length article on the new Inna Meiman Human Rights Scholarship and Swimming in the Daylight. Read the article here.
Feb. 23, 2011: My interview on “Lake Effect” aired on WUWM 89.7. Listen to the archived recording.
Feb. 22, 2011: Remember and Save is committed to saving documents and recollections of Soviet Jewry activists from around the world. The organization’s website posted a review of my book by Leonid Stonov, Union of Council for Soviet Jews. International Director of the Human Rights Bureaus in the former Soviet Union, and former long-term refusenik. Read it here.
Feb. 20, 2011: Nice article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today about my book and two launch events in Milwaukee this week. References my author video and notes that it includes Inna speaking with “great dignity.” Read more.
Feb. 17, 2011: Coverage in the Fox Cities ??? WHBY Appleton and the Fox Cities Radio Station Read more.
Feb. 16, 2011 Shepherd Express, Milwaukee’s independent weekly paper, “Lisa Paul Talks Swimming in the Daylight.Read more.
Feb. 15, 2011: Appleton Post Crescent: Appleton West alum’s book revisits advocacy for Soviet friend in need | postcrescent.com | Appleton.Read more.
Feb. 9, 2011: Swimming in the Daylight was recommended by the Jewish Book Council. Read more.
Feb. 1, 2011: American Library Association’s Booklist Review:
Swimming in the Daylight received a positive review from the American Library Association Booklist Review: Lisa Paul’s “inspiring memoir captures a tumultuous period of history as well as the resilience of the human spirit, even against seemingly overwhelming odds.” For over 100 years Booklist magazine has helped more readers find more titles than any other publication. Published by the American Library Association, Booklist magazine delivers over 8,000 recommended-only reviews of books, audiobooks, reference sources, video, and DVD titles each year (approximately 4,000 are book reviews). An interesting fact: There are about 200,000 new books published each year by traditional publishers. Booklist’s recommendation of Swimming in the Daylight is very significant. Click here to read the full review.
Feb. 1, 2011: Wisconsin Woman Magazine
Jenny Heyden is writing a weekly column in shorewood.patch.com, a new Shorewood website, and she was nice enough to mention me in her first column: “Toast Shorewood local attorney and writer, Lisa C. Paul, on her new book, Swimming in the Daylight, which ties Moscow to Wisconsin!” Full posting about my book launch event can be read here.
Jan. 3, 2011: The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle,
2011 has gotten off to a great start for me! An article about my book is in the January 3 publication of the The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle. Susan Ellman, the freelance writer who wrote the piece, was nice enough to come to my office in mid-December to interview me. The title of the article is Three Local Authors Publish First Books. You can read it here.
It is very meaningful to me to reach out to the Jewish community of Milwaukee with my book, including to the Jews who emigrated from the Soviet Union–many live in Shorewood, where I live.