Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

Written by Marina Lewycka, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, was published back in 2005, originally in English. The author herself is of Ukrainian origin and began her writing career as late as her fifties. Perhaps this is the reason why the book has got the sound humor of an adult and a lighthearted approach towards drama and in some cases ‘melodrama’.

The book is written in first person point of view and our narrator is called Nadia, whose father decides to take a wife, less than half his age, after his eighties. Appalled and shocked, Nadia buries the hatchet with her ‘Big Sis’ against the common enemy which comes in a make-up covered package of one Valentina, whose bosoms make the daughters feel flat-chested. The more Nadia digs, the more she will find out about her family history, her father, her sister and herself.
One would expect a lesser book with such a washed up story but that is not the case with Marina Lewycka’s narration. The book subjectively and discreetly discusses human nature and through personal experiences where different people stand on communism, capitalism, famine, war and immigration; and tractors…

What I admired most in this book however was the artless manner of the writer herself. She relates events in sincerity but without dragging them out; never succumbing to melodramatic expressions and bitter notions. She doesn’t impart the story through emotional exploitation of the reader but rather treats it as a simple history of one family which, like other families in the entire world, has got its own secrets, shame, resentments but also love, respect and devotedness. Like any other family, they are unique in their simplicity.

I enjoyed reading it and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in a simple yet engaging story written in a humorous fashion while all the way revealing truths about the human nature…and tractors…