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PW: In what way did your own ancestors' roots inspire The Old Country?
Mordicai Gerstein: My father came to the United States from Poland when he was nine years old and my maternal grandparents came from Odessa in the Ukraine, so as a child I heard much talk about the Old Country. My grandfather had a couple of tattoos on his arm and a scar on his face and there were stories about where these came from--stories about the mysterious Old Country.
I envisioned the Old Country as a place full of old furniture--kind of like an attic in an old house. And as a child I loved fairytales; I felt that those stories somehow came from the Old Country. So as I wrote the …