Book Review: Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

The blurb on the front cover says "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..."

If that doesn't catch your eye, then the title will!

This novel (nominated for the Man Booker Prize) is a strange mix of unrequited love, cruelty between men and women, sisterly fighting and bonding, and a Ukrainian's love of all things material. I enjoyed the "pidgin English" style of the father and wife (I could hear my own grandfather's broken English), but found some of the plot a bit repetitive in its relentless cruelty and lack of conclusion. However, the ending was a nice twist and had a nice bow on top, and I found myself happy at the end with the conclusion.

This is not a fluffy novel, though the title may look like it. In her debut, Lewycka weaves past and present, old and young, conflict and resolution into 300 scant pages. If you enjoy family drama or cultural explorations in literature, then this is the title for you.

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