A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

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Penguin, 2006 - Fiction - 294 pages
26 Reviews

With this wise, tender, and deeply funny novel, Marina Lewycka takes her place alongside Zadie Smith and Monica Ali as a writer who can capture the unchanging verities of family. When an elderly and newly widowed Ukrainian immigrant announces his intention to remarry, his daughters must set aside their longtime feud to thwart him. For their father's intended is a voluptuous old-country gold digger with a proclivity for green satin underwear and an appetite for the good life of the West. As the hostilities mount and family secrets spill out, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian combines sex, bitchiness, wit, and genuine warmth in its celebration of the pleasure of growing old disgracefully.


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User Review  - BillPilgrim - LibraryThing

Very enjoyable book. Funny and well written description of a widower Ukrainian immigrant and his two daughters living in England. He moved there after WW2 with his wife and one daughter at the time ... Read full review

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A week before our trip to the Ukraine I ordered this book. It arrived the day before our departure, so I just had
time to admire the rustic cover. I’ve been reading it between yesterday and today. It makes a nice novel that I recommend a lot. You can find summaries and reviews in the usual places. Suffice it to say that you can discover a lot about the Ukrainian psyche through the story of a family of emigrés in England.
The first thing that captivated me was the title of the book. It is so cool. It is maybe better that its content does not have much to do with it, by the way. A second nice thing has been the use of the language. The way in which the author conveys the broken English spoken by the Ukrainians. Then, there are some sketches of Ukrainian history, the rural life, the 1917 revolution, the multi-party war of 1918, the Famine of 1932-33, the War. Then, a big emptiness and after that the post-1990 Ukraine, which is mentioned as a tough place, home of a Wild-West-style capitalism, an environment apt only for gangsters.
In general there is a good insight about the Ukrainian history of the 20th centuries including both its realities and myths. There is a vague picture of the current Ukraine thanks to the apparition of Valentina, the young fiancée of the old Ukrainian widower that has spent more than half a century in England. The reason why I find it interesting is mainly related with nationalism and the issue of the Ukrainian identity.

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Selected pages


Section 1
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Section 14
Section 15
Section 16
Section 17
Section 18

Section 9
Section 10

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About the author (2006)

Marina Lewycka was born of Ukrainian parents in a refugee camp at the end of World War II and grew up in England. In the course of researching her family roots for this novel, she uncovered no fewer than three long-lost relatives.

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