First edition cover
|31 March 2005|
|Media type||Print (Hardback& Paperback)|
|Pages||336 pp (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-670-91560-2 (first edition, hardback)|
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.
The book was originally published in English, and has been translated into Russian and Ukrainian. In a BBC Bookclub interview, 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 immigrated 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.
- Koning, Christina (19 February 2005). "A Short History of Tractors by Marina Lewycka". Times Online (London). Retrieved 7 August 2009.
- "Marina Lewycka - A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian". BBC Radio 4 Bookclub. BBC. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
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