Nina Fedorova was the pen name of Antonina Riasanovsky, born Antonina Fedorovna Podgorinova in Lokhvytsia, Ukraine. In 1917, soon after the start of the Russian Revolution, she left for China. In 1923, she married Valentin Riasanovsky, an historian with whom she had two sons. The couple lived in Tientsin (present-day Tianjin) in 1936, and then fled the Japanese invasion to the USA, settling in Eugene, Oregon. She taught Russian literature at Oregon State University.
In 1940, she published The Family, a novel about an exiled White Russian family in Tientsin, China; she always claimed it was not autobiographical. It was a major hit and became one of the top 10 selling fiction books in the USA, running to 49 editions published between 1940 and 1994 in 8 languages. The Family won the 1940 best novel prize from the Atlantic Monthly. A sequel called The Children appeared in 1942. She also wrote a volume of plays for children published in 1964.