A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian: Marina Lewycka (Penguin Essentials, 71)
About this deal
As the story rolls along she's forever nudging your ribs and smirking loudly and huff-huffing at the silly things her characters do. it's not trying to be abstruse, it flows pretty decently, it took me relatively little time, and as a read was fairly enjoyable. Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must aside a lifetime of feuding to save their émigré engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. Yes a seemingly crazy juxtaposition of themes blend smoothly into an entertaining tale, involving love and loyalty, resilience, disappointment, sibling rivalry, self image, status anxiety, national identify and the horrors of war. The execution is equally lazy - the style is tedious, it's as if Lewycka used up all her creativity on inventing the pidgin English Valentina, the gold digger, speaks in.
Doesn't she realise that some things must be covered up and buried, so the shame of them doesn't taint the next generation?The only potentially interesting thing about it is the mini-reflection on how our sanctimonious left-wing, liberal views can conveniently disappear if we find our very personal interests threatened. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is Marina Lewycka’s bestselling debut novel has sold over one million copies worldwide.
The other no-no that the author does is to somehow allow her lead first-person narrator to know what someone else is thinking.In fact, it is one of those book that I would love to read again, simply because I am going to miss this family a lot. An adult plot, but written with limited vocab (except for "susurration"), short sentences, short paragraphs and short chapters. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian was bestselling author Marina Lewycka's bestselling debut novel which has sold over one million copies worldwide.
But make sure your readers know that this isn't just a trivial make-fun-of-the-daft-immigrants farce by adding in some DARK FAMILY HISTORY which since this is all about Ukrainians might well be pretty dark indeed. Q.Valentina is a remarkably forceful character, both for the people in your book and for the reader. Fortunately I read this novel not knowing that it had won a comedy award and with simply a basic sense of interest.Valentina non è esattamente il massimo dell’accortezza, si muove come un caterpillar, come un trattore (ma non è certo peggio delle due legittime eredi, Vera e Nadia): ripulisce il conto in banca di Nikolaj, divorzia, e lo ricopre di buffi epiteti e ingiurie in un buffo mix delle due lingue, la sua d’origine e quella che sta cercando d’acquisire (con incerto risultato): “moscio floscio” e avanti di questo passo. The novel begins with Nikolai’s dramatic announcement that he plans to remarry to a woman fifty years younger than he. Although it is set within a Ukrainian British family and it takes hilarious advantage of this fact, it reveals a lot about families generally. This is a theme big in Eastern/Middle European writing of last 60 or so years, and understandably so, as it would be hard to find a family in that part of the world not affected by the madness and cruelty of the last century: from the Great War, October Revolution, Civil War in the 20's, man-made Ukrainian famine of the 30's in which millions perished, Stalin's purges, WW2 and German labour camps. There is an episode in the comedy sitcom Mind Your Language, where Jeremy Brown's motley crew of students drawn from all over the world to learn English tell jokes to pass the time.