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A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by…

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (2005)

by Marina Lewycka

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,770208980 (3.4)377
  1. 20
    Moonlight in Odessa by Janet Skeslien Charles (norabelle414)
    norabelle414: These books could possibly be the same story from different points of view. They're both very entertaining stories, and contain just the right amount of history and culture of Ukraine.
  2. 21
    Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (BillPilgrim)
  3. 01
    And Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov (PilgrimJess)
    PilgrimJess: Gives a far better insight into Ukrainian history if that is what you are looking for.

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Showing 1-5 of 187 (next | show all)
The first paragraph reads:
"Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blond Ukrainian divorcee. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside."

And that pretty much describes the book. It is written from the point of view of Nadezhda, the younger daughter, who is a sociology instructor (but her family keeps calling her a social worker). Her father, Nikolai, and mother and older daughter, Vera, moved to England after the Second World War where Nadezhda was born. Her parents were married for sixty-five years before her mother died of cancer. After the mother's death the two daughters fought about their mother's will and haven't spoken since. However, the news about the impending nuptials with the Ukrainian divorcee (Valentina) necessitates desperate measures and Nadezhda calls Vera.

The title comes from a book Nikolai is writing and excerpts are scattered throughout the book. Nikolai was an engineer and worked in a tractor factory so he does know his stuff. He is not too smart in terms of money and scheming women though. His marriage to Valentina only ran smoothly as long as his money held out.

I couldn't decide if this book was a tragedy or a comedy but perhaps it is a combination of both just as life is for most of us. There are some funny passages but mostly it is just a story about a family. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 9, 2017 |
This is a cautionary tale for anyone with an elderly male relative seeking a wife from another country. Two years after the death of his wife, Nikolai Mayevskyj, an 84-year old British resident and refugee from Ukraine, finds Valentina, a 36-year old Ukrainian with a young son. The relationship evolves from marriage to subsequent contentious divorce proceedings; meanwhile, Nikolai's daughters, previously estranged from each other, are reconciled through their shared hatred of the common enemy, Valentina, who is attempting to wrest control of Nikolai's meager fortune (surprise, surprise). The younger sister, Nadia, is also made aware of their family history through conversations with her sister and her father during the course of the novel, which includes Stalin's reign and the German invasion during World War II. Nikolai is writing a book entitled A Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian (yawn), which is excerpted throughout the book. There are mildly humorous incidents and some heartbreakingly violent episodes between Valentina and Nikolai. The end of the book brings resolution and family restoration. ( )
  pdebolt | May 22, 2017 |
A book with the first lines as follows was sure to pull me in. “Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blond Ukrainian divorcée. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six.” What I found was an engaging, sometimes funny, other times horrifying, read.

The story begins with two sisters who have a faltering relationship trying to get a handle on why their father is importing a bride from the Ukraine. After the arrival of Valentina, the Ukrainian woman who exploded into their “lives like a fluffy pink grenade”, the sisters Nadia and Vera begin to suspect that all is not well in their father’s household. They attempt to help their father with what seem to be troubling developments, but, as often happens with elderly people, their father resists giving up control of his own situation to others even when it would be to his advantage.

What begins as a funny story soon tumbles into darker shades of difficulty faced by an elderly gentelman who, without his new bride, would be destined to live alone. Although the situations described in this novel are (hopefully) an exaggeration of what could occur in real life, they force readers to think about them as the two daughters discuss their dad’s problems in numerous and frequent telephone conversations.

Marina Lewycka’s novel was nominated for the Man Booker Prize and short-listed for the Orange Prize. I found this book enjoyable both for its unique, interesting story line as well as for its thought-provoking subject matter. . ( )
  SqueakyChu | May 21, 2017 |
What a hoot. I laughed out loud many times while reading this book. Very creative story line which addresses some deep family dynamics while maintaining a humorous tone throughout. I think this one has to go on my favorites shelf. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
5444. a short history of tractors in ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka (read 21 Feb 2017) This is a work of fiction and I think one reason I decided to read it is because it has such an unusual title for a novel. The author lives in England but was born in 1946 in a DP camp in Germany to Ukrainian parents. The story involves an 84-year-old Ukrainian-born man in England whose wife of 60 years has died There are two adult daughters, one of whom tells the story. Their father becomes besotted over a 36-year-old Ukrainian woman who is in England. They marry, to the horror of the daughters. The new wife is strictly out for their father's money, and the marriage becomes a nightmare. There are many funny things about the story but I became hopeful that it would work out OK for the old man and his kids. The story ends satisfactorily for me, so, while I was not too enamored by the dysfunctionality of characters while reading in the end I appreciated the book and found the book to be a good one.**** ( )
1 vote Schmerguls | May 6, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 187 (next | show all)
This is an odd one. Two years after the death of her mother, Nadezhda Lewis’s father, Nikolai Mayevskyj, a British resident and 1945 refugee from Ukraine, takes up with Valentina, a much more recent - and much younger - Ukrainian with a young son. The book recounts the unfolding of this relationship, through marriage and subsequent divorce proceedings and the reconciliation it brings about between Nadezhda and her older sister, Vera, who had become estranged following shenanigans involving their mother’s will. Nikolai is also writing the eponymous “Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian” extracts from which are doled out throughout the book.

This is all treated in a knockabout style and the characters are well delineated. In contrast to the humorous aspects there is also Mayevskyj family backstory from Ukraine which is much more sombre. Nikolai and his wife lived through Stalin’s farm collectivisations (and famines) of the 1920s and 30s plus the German invasion of World War 2. The main thrust of the novel, though, is really about Nadezhda’s lack of intimate knowledge of this past and Vera’s insistence that things belong there, not to be dredged up.

Some infelicities: the marriage takes place in a Catholic church even though Valentina is divorced (but the priest may not know) and Peterborough (United) are playing at home but appear on the big screen on a pub TV. This latter is unlikely I would think - even if they did reach the Championship.

Lewycka makes great play of the traumatic past of the Majevskyj family but to my mind there was a whiff of “something nasty in the woodshed” about her treatment of it.

A Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian is entertaining but ultimately strives for more than it delivers.

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lewycka, Marinaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hartenstein, ElfieÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kooreman, MarjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
SitaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blond Ukrainian divorcee.
He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.
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Aus der Amazon.de-Redaktion

Das Übel trägt einen Namen: Valentina! -- Seit die vollbusige, wasserstoffblonde Ukrainerin in Vater Nikolais Leben trat, schwebt der 84-Jährige Witwer im siebten Testosteron-Himmel. Der Alte verfasst selbstgefertigte Gedichte, lässt die Wohnung vergammeln und trägt Spendierhosen in Übergröße. Lediglich die „Hydraulik“ gewisser Körperpartien bereitet ihm Kummer. Was Wunder, zählt die Angebetete gerade mal süße sechsunddreißig. Nikolais verfeindete Töchter Vera und Nadeshda (die Ich-Erzählerin des Romans), riechen den Braten der Scheinehe zum Zwecke der Einbürgerung und beginnen sich ums väterliche Erbe zu sorgen.

Man lasse sich nicht blenden von dem an sozialistische Plakatkunst erinnernden Coverdesign, das eine ukrainisch-britische Immigrantenburleske erwarten lässt. Unter dem Komödienton schlummern dramatische Elemente und eine Familiengeschichte, die manches Lachen verstummen lässt. Die gebürtige Ukrainerin und heute in England lebende Marina Lewycka streut in ihre Kampfhandlungen zweier Schwestern gegen die „böse Stiefmutter“ immer wieder historische Einsprengsel, so die Verfolgung ihrer Familie durch Stalin und dessen gezielt herbeigeführte Hungersnot, die die Ukraine unterwerfen sollte und Millionen Tote forderte. Am Beispiel der gierigen Valentina werden auch die dubiosen Glücksverheißungen des Westens offenbar -- exemplarisch hierfür, die Busenvergrößerung, die der spendable Altbräutigam als Einstandsgeschenk springen lässt. Doch die Wunschliste der toughen Braut war noch lang!

Vera und Nadeshda, diese Hochgebildeten, scheinen ihre radebrechende Meisterin in Pink, Mini und Kunstpelz gefunden zu haben. Der völlig desillusionierte Vater steht vorm Ruin, am frisch gelieferten Busen laben sich andere, und alle Pläne, die Ehe für ungültig zu erklären, scheitern an der Tücke Valentinas und der Trägheit britischer Behörden. Trost findet der gehörnte Nikolai nur in seinem Lebensprojekt, der „Geschichte des Traktors auf Ukrainisch“, einer klugen und traurigen Reflexion über die beginnende Industrialisierung und den Verlust der eigenen Scholle.

Doch auch seine Töchter waren nicht untätig. Beim Durchstöbern des Elternhauses nach belastendem Valentina-Material tauchen brisante Dokumente auf, die die gesamte Familiengeschichte schlagartig ins Wanken bringen. Valentinas ultimatives Gastgeschenk -- von Marina Lewycka charmant und mit leichter Hand zu Papier gebracht -- und völlig zu Recht nominiert für den renommierten Booker Prize. --Ravi Unger


Vater steht auf Traktoren und Titten - ersteres manifestiert sich in seiner Arbeit an einem Trecker-Buch, zweiteres in seiner neuen Frau Valentina. Die ist 48 Jahre jünger als er, hat einen enormen Vorbau und kommt aus der Ukraine. Den Töchtern Vera und Nadeshda ist klar: Die Schlampe ist auf Papas Geld und ein Visum scharf! Um dagegen anzugehen, beerdigen die zwei ihren eigenen Streit und setzen alles daran, das britisch-ukrainische Eheglück zu zerstören. Überraschend enterte Marina Lewyckas Debütroman im letzten Jahr die Bestsellerlisten - vor allem die elegante Mischung aus Familiengeschichte, klischeehafter Lovestory und Immigrantendrama gefiel. In dieser Hörspielbearbeitung von Claudia Kattanek geht der Mix leider flöten. Reduziert auf eine Länge von 60 Minuten, bleibt von Lewyckas Geschichte vor allem der klischeebeladene Teil übrig - durch die Wahl der Sprecher (Jeanette Spassova lässt Valentina wie ein billiges Luder klingen) wird das sogar noch verstärkt. Gelungen ist allerdings die musikalische Untermalung der Geschichte. Dynamisch teilt sie in Sinnabschnitte und unterstützt so die Dramaturgie. (jul) kulturnews.de

Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamourous blonde Ukrainian divorcee. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.'

Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must put aside a lifetime of feuding to save their émigré engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. With her proclivity for green satin underwear and boil-in-the-bag cuisine, she will stop at nothing in her pursuit of Western wealth.

But the sisters' campaign to oust Valentina unearths family secrets, uncovers fifty years of Europe's darkest history and sends them back to roots they'd much rather forget.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143036742, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:03 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

For years, Nadezhda and Vera have had as little as possible to do with each other. But now they find they'd better learn how to get along, because since their mother's death their ageing father has been sliding into his second childhood, and an alarming new woman has just entered his life.… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

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