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A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by…

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Marina Lewycka

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4,5671961,051 (3.39)355
Title:A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
Authors:Marina Lewycka
Info:Penguin (2006), Edition: 1st Penguin Edition, Paperback, 326 pages
Collections:Your library

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A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka (Author) (2005)

  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)

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English (174)  German (6)  Dutch (5)  Norwegian (3)  Catalan (3)  Swedish (2)  Danish (1)  French (1)  All languages (195)
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
Elderly Nikolai, a widower for two years now, has informed his two grown daughters, Vera and Nadia, that he intends to marry again. Although the women feel disconcerted by their father's news they wonder if companionship in his twilight years might be good for him. Then they meet the bride. Valentina is a buxom blonde in her mid-30's from the Ukraine who has set her sights on what she sees as 'easy pickings' - a slightly addled old gentleman who owns a home and receives a pension. She wants Nikolai to provide for her and her school-aged son and she quickly sets about demanding Western luxuries from her new husband. Vera and Nadia are appalled and want nothing more than to separate their father from this Ukranian gold-digger. This will prove to be an unvelievably difficult task. Nikolai professes love for his bride, and especially her surgically enhanced body, and willingly drains his bank accounts providing private schooling for his new stepson, 3 vehicles for his as-yet unlicensed wife, household appliances and clothes and make-up that somehow only make Valentina look even trashier. Valentina has no problem telling everyone what a mean, stingy man she has married and that he does not satisfy her in any way. Vera and Nadia will stop at nothing to rid their father of this leech of a woman.

This story was surprisingly funny and, at the same time, very touching. Although the focus was on the farce of a marriage and the steps the sisters took against Valentina there was an amazing backstory of Nikolai and his first wife Ludmilla and their struggles during WWII to escape the Ukraine and bring their family to safety in post-war England. I enjoyed the book for the most part but my dislike of Valentina overshadowed it too much. She was a cruel, manipulative witch who eventually became physically abusive to a defeseless old man. The author tried to make the reader feel sympathy for Valentina at times but I just couldn't do it.
( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
Well, I guess I didn't find it THAT funny, or witty, or interesting. ( )
  Marse | Aug 26, 2015 |
When their widowed elderly father decides to remarry a valuptuous younger women trying to get her papers to live in England, two estranged sisters band together to protect their father from this gold-digger. Has emotionally poignant and very amusing moments, as well as containing a short history of tractors. It was captivating for a once through read, but probably would not do a reread.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
In my eyes a pointless book. Neither entertaining nor enlightening. I have to ask "What's the point?". It says it is funny but I didn't find many funny situations in this book. It was annoying to read about the obvious, how the main character's dad gets drawn into a scam by the Ukrainian lady. All too predictable, no surprise at all. And the author has this "tick" to get lost in endless lists. She describes i.e. over half a page the content of a fridge by listing food after food after food. I usually jumped to the end of the paragraph. Annoying. ( )
  PeterNZ | May 11, 2015 |
Rabck from House-elfdobby, 1001 book. Quirky, british-centric book. As an american reader, I tripped over some of the british idioms & needed a dictionary on hand to know what some of the things were. Base of the book is a gold-digging Ukrainian 30 something tart, who gets her claws into a retired doddering widowed lonely Ukrainian/British engineer. Enter her family and friends, his daughters and the author sets up comedy, painting over top of the atrocities from Pappy's younger years, including things that the older daughter experienced & the family never talks about. In the end, you feel sorry for the gold-digger, and are sobered by the resiliency of the whole family, who suffered before and during WWII. How did they survive intact? ( )
  nancynova | Mar 17, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 174 (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, MarinaAuthorprimary 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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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