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A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

3.36  ·  Rating Details  ·  19,289 Ratings  ·  2,072 Reviews
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian was bestselling author Marina Lewycka's bestselling debut novel which has sold over one million copies worldwide. Lewycka tells the side-splittingly funny story of two feuding sisters, Vera and Nadezhda, who join forces against their father's new, gold-digging girlfriend.

'Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a
...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published August 28th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published March 31st 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul Bryant
Mar 21, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
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
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Nataliya
May 15, 2012 Nataliya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads
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

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Donald
Jul 26, 2008 Donald rated it did not like it
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
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Kinga
Jan 26, 2015 Kinga rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-women-2014
My literary tastes revolve around two extremes - the high brow stuff and utter trash usually called something like "To Marry a Duke" and I don't find much enjoyment in the safe, middle of the road, commercial fiction. Either challenge me properly or provide with the cheapest kind of thrills. Knowing that about myself, I don't know what possessed me to suggest this book as our book group read. Not only did I force myself and everybody else to read this questionable work but also now all my recomm ...more
Nandakishore Varma
Jan 02, 2016 Nandakishore Varma rated it liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
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
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Ian Vinogradus
Dec 10, 2011 Ian Vinogradus rated it it was amazing
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
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Paula
Nov 14, 2007 Paula rated it did not like it
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
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Margitte
This book has such a long blurb that I don't want to use it here. Suffice to say that it is a perfect summary of the book. But here it is for those who would like to read it as part of my review: (view spoiler) ...more
Kate
Apr 08, 2008 Kate rated it it was ok
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
Victoria
Jun 09, 2008 Victoria rated it really liked it
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
Harun Harahap
Apr 19, 2010 Harun Harahap rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pinjam, fiksi, terjemahan
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
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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
Joachim
Jul 28, 2012 Joachim rated it really liked it
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
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
Cecily
Jun 15, 2008 Cecily rated it did not like it
Shelves: overrated
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
Oriana
May 17, 2011 Oriana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
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
Jamie
Aug 31, 2007 Jamie rated it did not like it
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
Maciek
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
Shovelmonkey1
May 05, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it really liked it
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
Alta
One of the most enjoyable novels I've ever read: extremely funny, witty, and the Ukrainian characters are unforgettable. In fact, the book was so entertaining that I (an elitist) felt guilty because I assumed that it's the kind of novel anyone would love. So, out of curiosity I took a look at the reviews on Goodreads and... surprise: many reviews were quite negative. This may be explained by the fact that behind the lightness of the book hides a very serious subtext: the author, who was born of ...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 ucra
...more
chelka
Jun 05, 2016 chelka rated it liked it
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
Punk
Nov 28, 2009 Punk rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Cheryl
Aug 12, 2016 Cheryl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Funny, if you think that adults acting like children, from bickering to bullying to playing with cars to frequently losing control of one's bowels is funny. Meaningful, if you think that remembering, with brief & incomplete anecdotes, a sainted mother who survived the camps mostly by luck, is meaningful.

Brilliant - for a debut novel. Iirc, the author got more *L*iterary w/ her next, and unfortunately that's not a compliment. In this, I really feel for Mike and Stanislav. There are definitel
...more
Antonomasia
[3.5] Like a lot of the popular fiction I've read in the last couple of years, not as enjoyable as expected, yet still did a more than adequate job of being distracting and more or less effortless. Whilst the last c.30% at least has episodes of silly farce, a lot of what went before didn't seem a likely winner of the verbosely-named Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction, nor something to be festooned in quotes including "extremely funny" and "hilarious". If it weren't that many of ...more
Friederike Knabe
Jun 19, 2014 Friederike Knabe rated it really liked it
Shelves: ce-europe
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
Lavinia
Mar 15, 2016 Lavinia rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2010
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
Megalion
A tale of an old Ukrainian immigrant in England with two middle aged daughters.

Widowed some years ago, he decides to help out an Ukrainian woman he learns about who is need of a way to get citizenship in England for her and her son. He will marry her.

Nadia and Vera are very alarmed when they find out and of course are immediately suspicious about this woman.

What follows is an interesting look at Ukrainian culture, the perspective of a war time immigrant, elder abuse, gold digging, British legal
...more
Imi
This peaked at the quirky title. Any of the jokes that were vaguely amusing at the start of the quickly lost their charm as they were repeated again and again throughout. None of the characters or themes were developed in any meaningful way, and most of the attempts of humour felt cheap, unoriginal and stereotypical. All the characters in this family were bitter and petty in a way I just found infuriating rather than sympathetic or amusing. Also by the end the broken English was really grating o ...more
Nancy
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
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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
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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.” 15 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.” 6 likes
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