A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
People who enjoy watching those daft British comedies on television will likely enjoy reading A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, a funny, slightly offbeat novel written along the lines of the situation comedy formula, right down to one or two characters who speak broken English and use endearments such as “Ah, holubchik. My little pigeon.” The situation in the novel is classic: A dirty, doting old man falls for a sexy, gold-digging bombshell less than half his age. His two daughters, themselves considerably older than the bombshell, engage her and their father in a long, drawn-out struggle to save him. The plot is full of twists and surprises, with each of the thirty-one chapters corresponding to an episode in a comedy series and the author showing great ingenuity in developing them. Though close to being caricatures, the characters nevertheless give a highly entertaining satirical view of modern-day England.
Author Marina Lewycka has said that she set out deliberately to entertain in A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, after writing several novels with big ideas and serious themes that failed to get published. She certainly succeeded in her intentions, producing a novel that won the 2005 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction and was short-listed for the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction (an international award for women writing in English). Lewycka’s experience as a university lecturer on public relations...
(The entire section is 1846 words.)
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