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A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.jpg
First edition cover
Author Marina Lewycka
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Comedy novel
Publisher Viking Press
Publication date
31 March 2005
Media type Print (Hardback& Paperback)
Pages 336 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN 0-670-91560-2 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 57382192

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is a novel by Marina Lewycka, first published in 2005 by Viking (Penguin Books).[1]

The novel won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize at the Hay literary festival, the Waverton Good Read Award 2005/6, and was short-listed for the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction, losing to Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin. Over a million copies have been sold in the UK.[2]

The book was originally published in English, and has been translated into Russian and Ukrainian. In a BBC Bookclub interview,[2] the author mentioned that some reviewers of the Ukrainian translation were hostile, seeing it as an attack on their country.


The novel describes the reactions of two daughters when their widowed, 84-year-old father Nikolai marries a highly sexual and much younger Ukrainian immigrant, Valentina. Concerned about Valentina’s motives, Nadezhda and Vera are drawn back into contact with each other after a long period of estrangement. They find themselves united against a common enemy in Valentina, whose grasping, manipulative behavior escalates until the daughters finally succeed in obtaining a divorce for their father.

Nikolai, a former engineer who emigrated to Britain in the aftermath of the Second World War, is writing a history of tractors in Ukrainian, translated extracts from which appear throughout the text. In the process of sorting out Nikolai’s marital entanglements, Nadezhda also uncovers secrets from her family’s history and learns about their experiences during the Ukrainian famine and Stalin’s purges.

The novel takes place in Peterborough, England, and is narrated by the youngest daughter, Nadezhda, a university lecturer in Sociology.


  1. ^ Koning, Christina (19 February 2005). "A Short History of Tractors by Marina Lewycka". Times Online (London). Retrieved 7 August 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Marina Lewycka - A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian". BBC Radio 4 Bookclub. BBC. Retrieved 13 July 2015. 

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Tue, 12 Apr 2016 04:48:45 -0700

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian – Marina Lewycka Less about tractors and more about sex, sisterhood, and green satin underwear. Two sisters Vera and Nadezhda have to put aside their lifetime of differences to save their divorcee father from ...


Tue, 25 Feb 2014 10:30:48 -0800

Of Ukrainian origin herself, Lewycka paints a subtle but compelling portrait of a family who, despite their differences, find themselves brought together by their shared history and culture. Check out my review below and see what YOU had to say about it.

The Guardian

BBC News
Tue, 22 Mar 2016 19:15:00 -0700

Lewycka, shortlisted for The Lubetkin Legacy, was the 2005 winner with A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. The winner will be announced ahead of the Hay Festival which begins 26 May. Previously shortlisted authors Murray and O'Farrell are joined ...
The Bookseller
Wed, 09 Mar 2016 06:15:00 -0800

The prize was judged by Di Spiers of the BBC, Marina Lewycka, author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and agent Juliet Mushens at The Agency Group who called it "a deft and moving portrayal of isolation". Jon Riley, publisher at Quercus ...

Winnipeg Sun

Winnipeg Sun
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 12:27:33 -0800

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewychka. 5. Who was your childhood celebrity crush? Michy Dolenz from The Monkeys. 6. What's the last song you downloaded? I listen to CBC Radio all the time. 7. If you could see one concert, what ...


Thu, 03 Dec 2015 02:03:42 -0800

... delighted to be the first to fanfare this exciting new talent. Matthew himself blogged: “Right now, I firmly believe I've been lucky enough to win literature's finest award!” The awards date back to 2004. Winners include 'A Short History of ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Fri, 04 Sep 2015 06:21:30 -0700

Lewycka, author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, who came to the UK in 1947 with her parents, is among the authors committed. “I'm contributing to this anthology because I'm so concerned about the way we keep women and children in detention ...

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Thu, 02 Jul 2015 02:23:43 -0700

Lewycka, author of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize-winning debut novel A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (Penguin), read from her new novel inspired by Berthold Lubetkin, the Georgian-born architect who pioneered modernist design in ...

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