Lilian Nattel felt drawn to Lily Litvyak the moment she heard of her.
It was in the early 2000s when Nattel’s husband first came across Litvyak’s story online: she was a golden-haired Soviet fighter pilot whose plane was shot down behind German lines in 1943. After that, nobody knows what happened to her.
With so little information about her on the Internet at the time, the superficial details – especially the similarities between the two women – shook Nattel. They were both short and Jewish, Nattel noticed, and they even shared the same first name.
“Why haven’t I heard of her?” Nattel, sitting in a café in downtown Toronto, recalls asking herself. “It just kind of blew my mind that this existed.”
Nattel knew then that she wanted to write a book about Litvyak. She immediately began scouring the Internet for more information, finding a few contemporary memoirs from people who knew her.
– Michael Fraiman, interview, CJN