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A short history of tractors in Ukranian

A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian ~ Marina Lewycka

Other than that my boyfriend thought I was finally developing an interest in farming, there was absolutely nothing funny about this book. And the only reason I’m pointing this out is because it won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic writing. Not to mention that it was long-listed for the Booker too.

It had potential though – a gold-digging big-breasted satin-underwear loving Ukrainian hussy has latched on to the narrator’s elderly widower father. She is now out to take his money, his house and is refusing to grant him a divorce. The father is an old Ukrainian engineer, writing a book about the history of tractors and is probably funny on occasion, but everything about this book is cliched and every time I nearly laughed, I didn’t. 

For instance, it drove me nuts to read (a book), with so many asides in parentheses (by the narrator) as though she was trying to nudge me (in the ribs) constantly to get me to laugh (because she knew the jokes weren’t funny).

And also, of course, there was the matter of the family’s dark past, during the end of the second World War. Which might have served the story well if it was written as a dark comedy, instead of slapstick humor which just left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Why you should read it –

  • Interestingly, I learned a good bit about Ukraine’s history and, to my boyfriend’s great pleasure…a good bit about tractors too
  • You might also read it if you’re looking for cheap thrills. Someone point Sia in this direction.

Why you shouldn’t read it –

  • If you don’t want to read a gimmicky story with some maudlin attempts at humor