I’ve finished a very enjoyable book, A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka.
I feel extra cool — it was announced that this book had been selected to the long list for the Man Booker Prize while I was reading it. Sweet.
The book tells the story of two Ukranian sisters who emigrated to England with their family. They’ve become estranged after the death of their mother and arguments over their inheritance. Their father, an engineer who is a genius, crazy, or both was left out of the mother’s will entirely because he’d squander it all on some hare-brained scheme. The hair-brained scheme that he becomes involved in is attempting to “save” a voloptuous blond Ukranian from being forced to leave England by marrying her. This story line is hilarious. The sisters, who now have a common enemy, join forces to derail the plan. As the story unfolds, we learn that one sister is the “war baby” and the other sister is the “peace baby”, based upon the events of their childhoods. The differences in their upbringing have everything to do with how they see the world and their roles in it. As we learn about the things that have happened in the father’s past, too, one can appreciate some of his quirks. Pretty good book, and I recommend it all around.
I am going to make a blanket statement that any book by Russians, Soviets, or former Soviets is going to be good. I can’t think of any book off the top of my head that I’ve read involving Russo-protagonists that I have been disappointed with. Stick with the Soviet-block lit, apparently you can’t go wrong.