A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
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A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  14,258 ratings  ·  1,709 reviews
When their recently widowed father announces that he plans to remarry, sisters Vera and Nadezhda realize that they must learn to put aside a lifetime of bitter rivalry in order to save him. The new woman in his life is Valentina, a voluptuous gold-digger from Ukraine, fifty years his junior, with fabulous breasts and a proclivity for green satin underwear and boil-in-the-b...more
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published March 17th 2005 by Penguin Press HC, The
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Never before have I bought a book because of title alone. Plus, it was sandwiched between Nicholas Sparks (ughhh!) and "Eat, Pray, Love" (blerghhh!). I rescued it from this ghastly company and expected a grateful dose of funny in return.

But instead of fun with tractors I got the above - the family squabbles, elderly abuse, well-hidden family secrets that nobody wants to unearth, the pent-up years of anger and frustration, and the misery of life. In a nutshell, it is a story of a very dysfunction

This reads like the author has earnestly followed some kind of How To Write a Comic Novel course.

1 - write about what you know. Check! She's British Ukrainian and this is all about British Ukrainian stuff.

2 - Decide on a strong central narrator and give them a winning personality. Check! Boy oh boy does our first person narrator want you to like her. When I was reading this today and the doorbell rang I thought that was her come round with some freshly baked pampushky. As the story rolls along s...more
I recently picked this book up used at my local library for $1. The cover burst advertised that it was nominated for a Man Booker Prize, and the back cover copy boasted that it was an international bestseller that was shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

My thoughts on that after reading the book: What the fuck?

The quick synopsis of the plot is this: Gold-digging Ukrainian immigrant hussy latches on to an elderly Ukrainian widower in England, marries him, and tries to take his money and his house. H...more
Ian Paganus
Tractor Attraction

I knew that this book existed for some time. However, something about the title didn't attract me.

I think I have always assumed that I would prefer a book about American tractors.

Then one week I saw it again, bought it and read it within a week. I was ready for it. Our lives had mysteriously moved into alignment.

Not So Secret Family Business

Although it is set within a Ukrainian British family and it takes hilarious advantage of this fact, it reveals a lot about families gener...more
This book had so much going for it. First: a quirky title. Second: crazy Ukrainian immigrants. Third: a love story involving horny old people. And it managed to fail miserably on all three counts.

Quick summary: Two sisters are estranged because of a mysterious event that happened 40 years ago in the Old Country. But their mother is dead and their father has taken up with a Ukrainian hussy. Also, he is writing a book about tractors. In Ukrainian. Hussy terrorizes father, sisters must get over the...more
Nandakishore Varma
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. Juan Cervantes, the Spanish bartender, tells a hilarious joke: at the end, he is in stitches, unable to stifle laughter, because the joke is so funny. The problem is, it is wholly in Spanish, so nobody else in the class can understand.

This novel left me feeling like one of those class members.

This is the story of old...more
Apr 08, 2008 Kate rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like tractors
I picked up this book because it had rave reviews printed all over the back and inside covers about how hillarious it was. I don't know if i'm missing something but I didn't find this book funny at all. I think it dealt with alot of serious issues, and was quite educational about the history of Ukraine and the perceptions of the west. Maybe there was some black comedy element I was missing, but to me I just didn't find an old man being abused, war and people mispronouncing English words amusing....more
Harun Harahap
Tua-tua Keladi makin tua makin jadi

Hal inilah yang tepat untuk menggambarkan seorang kakek berusia 84 tahun bernama Nikolai. Karena seorang wanita berpayudara besar bernama Valentina, dia kehilangan akal sehatnya. Valentina adalah seorang imigran asal Ukraina yang hanya ingin mendapatkan kewarganegaraan Inggris dengan cara menikahi Nikolai. Dengan senjatanya berupa payudaranya itulah, dia mulai menipu Nikolai dengan menguras hartanya sedikit demi sedikit. Untung saja ada dua anak wanita dari Nik...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
That's what he is writing, a short history of tractors. In Ukrainian. Eighty-four years old, an engineer, a chess player and a father of two daughters, he had been recently widowed. Now he decides to marry a 36-year-old blonde Ukrainian divorcee with a teenage son and a pair of superior breasts. He knows that she wants to marry him only for his money and so that she and her son can make permanent their stay in England (where he and his family had migrated a long time ago) but he looks at her gol...more
This book sat on my shelf for months before I finally sat down to read it. There was no good reason for my hesitance – the book has glowing reviews and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize – for some reason it just didn’t appeal to me. You know the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’? Well I do this, all the time, and I think that was the reason behind my mental block. My mind could not make the link between the words 'history', 'tractors', 'Ukrainian' and the comedy that the blurb on the b...more
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian made the Booker longlist for 2005, which is quite a feat for a debut novel - and one of the two reasons why I chose to read it. The other one is, of course, its quirky title - I just couldn't pass a book titled like that, even though I profess absolutely no knowledge of even the most rudimentary Ukrainian. My knowledge of tractors is not much better - I'm able to identify one when I see it, but that's pretty much it.

A Short History of Tractors... is the s...more
This was a surprisingly touching book about a (very) dysfunctional family. I don't usually like this kind of book, but I was totally hooked it kept me up at night a couple of times - it's that good.

I disagree with the reviews, however, which invariably claim that this is a hilarious book. It was funny and sad at the same time. When it was funny, it was chuckle-funny, not lough-out-loud. It's more of a real-life story about people and their problems, blown out of proportion with (slightly) oversi...more
Well this gets a big meh. It felt like paint-by-numbers noveling: take a fucked up family, add some culturally sensitive and upsetting history, intersperse it with a quirky thing one of them does. So: two embittered, estranged sisters have to work together to help save their aging father from the much younger woman who has her talons in him / parents came from the Ukraine and survived war and purges and internment camps and other horrors / dad is (when not trying to fondle his new wife's big fak...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
I was so happy to finally get a copy of this book, after coming across it in little Cosmos bookshop in St. Kilda about 2 years ago, even though I couldn't get an edition with the nicer tractor cover. I just find it tacky to print the first two sentences on the front cover, even though it is a catchy beginning.

It was certainly not quite what I was expecting - because it was nominated for the Man Booker Prize last year, I guess I was expecting something a bit heavier, more depressing. But this boo...more
Aug 31, 2007 Jamie rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like overhyped things
This book, despite all of its stars and reviews and etc etc was a huge disappointment. It's rare that I don't finish a book but I became so apathetic to this one that by page 180 I just left it on the floor of my room and later returned it to the library. I have no interest to know how it ends. The characters ply you for sympathy in maudlin fashion and cliches drip off every page.

Here is a summary of the book: Hey! We're Ukrainian! We have a dark family past! But we're really sardonic too! Hey!...more
Jul 02, 2007 chelka rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like Eastern European stuff...?
A librarian co-worker recommended this book to me, describing it as funny and quirky. She knows I come from a Polish family and frequently recommends Russian, Polish, and other Eastern European literature. I find it interesting to read as I was not brought up with any sense of E. European culture, and this book made me wonder what I would be like if I had experienced more Polish-ness. The story revolves around two sisters in their fifties who must sit back while their recently-widowed father mar...more
Fiction. This book isn't nearly as charming as its title, which, I'll confess, is the main reason I bought it. Mostly it's about a horny, pathetic old man who is being exploited by his much younger, practically mail-order wife. I finished it, but just barely.

The characters are Ukrainian and living in England, but don't expect to learn much about what that means for them. There's a lot of family drama, elder abuse, and not much characterization. The first person narrator, the old man's adult daug...more
Many times, before I read the book (or at least I had a clue what it is about), I wondered if it really treats the subject of tractors or it’s just a funky title. Well, for those of you out there who might have the same dilemma, yes, it is about tractors. But fortunately, not only. :)

We have very picturesque characters: a voluptuous & outrageous blonde, two desperate/bitchy sisters, a helpless old man, uncomfortable ironies, immigrants, family anecdotes, canned food and a lot of plum wine. A...more
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
breve storia dell'intramontabile passione degli uomini per le belle donne

un vedovo ucraino di 84 anni si invaghisce e sposa la sua badante di 36
le figlie non solo se la prendono, ma incominciano a trovare un'intesa che non hanno mai avuto prima nell'obiettivo comune di scalzare questa procace cacciatrice di soldi e permesso di soggiorno, che si è insediata nella casa della loro defunta madre

divertente, a tratti esilarante, incentrato tutto sullo scontro culturale tra l'idea che una badante ucrai...more
Adult sisters warring over parent(s), money, step mother etc. The extracts about the history of tractors are a gimmick that ought to have more relevance to justify its inclusion; the characters and plot are unoriginal and superficial and the attempts at humour feel lame.

I can't figure out the target audience, how was it shortlisted for the Orange prize (just a pun on Ukraine's Orange Revolution?) or selected as Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime?

An adult plot, but written with limited vocab (except for...more
A novel that reads like a memoir, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, often outrageous. I think the characters were extremely real, I felt like I was reading a memoir and though their language and treatment of each other was on the far end of dysfunctional, there was also a lot of love and family togetherness. It basically is about two sisters trying to save their aging father from being duped by a much younger buxom Ukranian refugee. I kept thinking of Anna Nicole Smith—her outrageousness, her marr...more
Friederike Knabe
Rumours have it that Marina Lewycka's first novel was initially placed under "agriculture" on the book shelves. Ukrainian tractors don't sound like a good topic for a highly enjoyable reading experience. Yet it is! While a history of tractors features in the narrative as a sub-stream, the story really is about family - history and complex relationships across generations and cultures. All those elements are packaged in a vivid, yet easy-going language, filled with humour and gentle satire.

The st...more
Aku cukup suka dengan bukunya. Cara berceritanya enak, luwes, apa adanya, sedikit humor sinis, dan kalau kubilang ini juga pengaruh terjemahannya. Keren banget :D

Kenapa aku suka sama buku ini? Karena cerita yang diangkat begitu hidup dan nyata. Nadezhda dan Verochka (watta beautiful name), dua kakak adik yang berseteru selama dua tahun setelah meninggalnya ibu mereka, kini dipersatukan kembali karena permasalahan yang ayah mereka bawa. Haha. Bayangin aja, si Nikolai ayah mereka yang berusia 84 t...more
May 05, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: tractor lovers and Ukranians
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: by an accidental osmotic imbibing of popular culture
Shelves: 1001-books
Thought this was a great book (despite myself). Easy to read, engaging, likeable characters and well written. The story deals with Nadia, Vera and their wayward Papa (author of the eponymous tractor book) as he deals with the death of their mother and then decides to accquire a young wife from the Ukraine. The arrival of the pneumatically breasted Valentina (part Valkyrie part 60's sex siren) throws the family into chaos and brings to light a lot of forgotten family history. Not laugh out loud f...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I had tracked a copy of this book down because it would fulfill the Ukraine component for my Around the World challenge as well as having been shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

Then I read a few fairly negative reviews, and it got pushed aside in Orange January. Then I decided to speed date it along with the other Orange Prize nominees that I had in the house, and it won!

I liked the snappy dialogue, the quick storytelling, and the frustrating characters. Nadia and Vera are children of Ukrainian...more
We have a family friend who smuggled cameras into Soviet Russia. He was a mathemetician or engineer at MIT at the time, something like that, and he and his teachers heard their colleagues in Russia were being blacklisted under Brezhnev, and that being blacklisted meant not working, and that not working meant being on the street, and that being on the street meant being shipped to a labor camp. So under who knows what excuse, these MIT nerds flew to Moscow—multiple times—with American-made camera...more
Sep 14, 2012 C. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to C. by: The Parents
Mildly entertaining, but kind of boring and not really very funny. Everything finished in a nice neat little happily-ever-after package.
Mar 23, 2007 Sandy added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Engineers and those interested in Russian history
This is a book that can be read on a plane ride, short. The story is about the partnership between two estranged sisters who try and prevent the marriage of their 84 year old Ukranian immigrant father from marrying a 36 year old gold digger. The older sister was born in the Ukraine during war time in Russia. The younger is peace time baby born in England. They have a view about life influenced by their respective early years and the socio-political times of their birth. The father was an enginee...more
This is becoming somewhat disappointing--too stereotypical and superficial in its humour and somewhat too flat in the language (even though there are exceptions)... I'm heading for two stars at most, I think ...

The overall idea of this book is great, with the connection between mid-twentieth century European disaster and present-day society, including Lenin´s view of capitalism extending into contemporary global greed and local or individual experience of its consequences. The counterpoint of a...more
Dumb, dumb, dumb. I have no idea why British newspapers raved about the funniness of this book -- and I usually love British humor! But this was no David Lodge. It might have worked as a short story, but as a novel it was the same joke over and over, and it got increasingly unbelievable. Additionally, although the characters apparently spoke Ukrainian, all their conversations took place in broken English. Why would a bunch of Ukrainians get together and converse in broken English? Oh -- silly me...more
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Marina Lewycka is a British novelist of Ukrainian origin, currently living in Sheffield, England.

Lewycka was born in a refugee camp in Kiel, Germany after World War II. Her family then moved to England where she now lives. She was educated at Keele University and works as a lecturer in media studies at Sheffield Hallam University.

In addition to her fiction, Lewycka has written a number of books gi...more
More about Marina Lewycka...
Two Caravans We Are All Made Of Glue Various Pets Alive and Dead A Shorter History of Tractors in Ukrainian with Handcuffs Four Minute Warning

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“As Romeo and Juliet found to their cost, marriage is never just about two people falling in love, it is about families.” 9 likes
“When I saw the car pulling into the driveway and I saw her getting out and walking towards the house, can you imagine Nadezhda, I performed involuntary excretion in my trousers.” 5 likes
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