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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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4,6012011,041 (3.39)365
  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. 00
    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 180 (next | show all)
“There is a special sadness at the end of a journey. For it's only when you get to your destination that you discover the road doesn't end here after all.”

I picked this book for three reasons really. Firstly that it is on the 1001 books before you die list, secondly because it was described as being 'extremely funny' and thirdly because it was about about an ethnic minority trying to settle in Britain which seems very apt with what is going on in the Mediterranean at present.

The novel revolves around a recent arrival in Britain from the Ukraine. Her name is Valentina and to get a British passport, she is prepared to marry a recently widowed elderly man, Nikolai, himself an Ukrainian immigrant if a long standing one. For her it is a marriage of convenience as for she has no affection for the old man for she is still young and virile whereas the old male is infirm and impotent. Marriage would also provide the opportunity of a university education for her accompanying teenage son

Valentina in many respects is not a sponger and in fact she works hard if illegally in an old people's home but she then spends most of her nights with another Englishman so is portrayed as manipulative. She dislikes housework and cooking but thinks everything Western is better so loves shopping. The only two people who can stop her getting her own way are Nikolai's two daughters, like their father Ukrainian immigrants who have long since become law-abiding British citizens. Despite their best efforts their father marries Valentina. The new wife bullies her elderly husband both physically and psychologically until the two daughters finally convince their father to petition for divorce.

The younger daughter, Nadezhda, was born at the end of WWII unlike her sister Vera who was born at the beginning. Nadezhda reminisces about Ukraine and ponders the country's tragic history: the famine, Nazi occupation, Stalin's purges whereas Vera prefers to try and bury the past. These tragic real events are in stark contrast with the fictional and somewhat grotesque main plot.

Lewycka succeeds in creating some comic situations but the characters are all mere caricatures. Valentina's enormous breasts, her passion for green satin underwear and her dislike of cooking are all mentioned a number of times and so heavily exploited. She is more a mannequin than someone real. The old man is almost always seen in pyjamas or naked, as a symbol of the impotence of old age. Interspersed throughout the novel Nikolai reads aloud from the manuscript that he is writing about the history of tractors, hence the title of the novel.

I found this an amusing novel, (I smiled on occasions rather than laughed out loud), and a mildly interesting diversion but probably not one that will live long in the memory and as such it was a bit of a disappointment. ( )
  PilgrimJess | May 9, 2016 |
It was great that the GeoCAT pointed me in the direction of this 1001 book. I definitely enjoyed it. It was touching, funny and also somewhat painful at times. It is told from the point of view of the daughter of an elderly Ukrainian widow who has decided to marry a Ukrainian woman 48 years his junior. The daughter joins forces with her sister (this crisis has brought them back together after a two-year estrangement) to try to deal with the ensuing problems. Then name of the book is the name of the book that the Ukrainian widow is writing, and excerpts are included (in fact the entire history of tractors might be in there!). A good read. ( )
  LisaMorr | Apr 22, 2016 |
3.5 stars

And elderly man is swept off his feet by a mid-30s new Ukrainian immigrant--and proceeds to marry her.

His two adult daughters--10 years and a world's view apart--advise against the marriage, and then they must straighten out the mess.

Nadia, the younger sister, learns a lot about her family's lives in Ukraine/Poland/Germany during WWII--before she was born. She gains a bit of understanding for Valentina, who definitely wants dad's money--but also is struggling to make her way after the collapse of communism and the rampant corruption in Ukraine. ( )
  Dreesie | Apr 12, 2016 |
Nadia is upset when her 84 year old widowed father decides to marry Valentina a 36 year old from Ukraine. Nadia must work with her estranged sister to try to get Valentina out of their fathers life. there was a lot of humor involving the father's situation but also some pathos involving their fathers loneliness. I don't really understand why the tractor parts had to be in the book. I found them boring and that they didn't really connect to the rest of the story. ( )
  RachelNF | Apr 2, 2016 |
Couldn't finish it...just got bored with the angst. ( )
  debs913 | Apr 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 180 (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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