Monday, July 30, 2012

Short History of Tractors in Ukranian-Marina Lewycka

A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian-Marina Lewycka

the facts
satisfaction: up
pages: 324
gender: F
nationality: Ukraine/UK based
year: 2005

"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."

The wit and funny of this book really cannot be underestimated. What could have been a bitter, dead serious topic was handled with infinite joy that actually caused me to laugh out loud. The humor is almost absurdist but with enough real life that you know it's not really that absurd. The stubborn old man, the golddigging immigrant, the feuding sisters, and the whole cast of almost-stereotypical (but human enough) characters unwittingly throwing themselves into an overall quirky narrative.

However, don't let the humor mislead you. This book tackles some very serious subjects including the effects of war and peace on a family that has seen both. The two sisters are divided not just by the typical feuding sister relationship but also by a cultural divide that sinks down into the very core of stability. The father with his dialect is the very picture of a man who has made a new life but still thinks of the old one and his short history of tractors is his way of expressing his nostalgia and regret for his home country.

The tragedy is as well handled as the comedy and the comedy is where the book truly shines. I loved it and well understand how it has appeared on "books you must read" lists. I actually bought this book and intend to keep it...a sign of quality.

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