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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 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 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.


  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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117 news items

Winnipeg Sun

Winnipeg Sun
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 12:26:15 -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 ...


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 Bookseller

The Bookseller
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 ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Tue, 19 May 2015 01:53:56 -0700

... in the fields near Hay: the prize comes with a locally bred Gloucestershire Old Spot pig named after the winning novel, with previous winners including the late Terry Pratchett for Snuff, and Marina Lewycka for A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.

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 ...

San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle
Sat, 26 Mar 2005 16:46:57 -0800

"A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian" is an admirable first work. Lewycka has the tic, however, of inserting parenthetical asides that exhibit her narrator's reactions to other characters' dialogue, as if she doesn't trust that we know our ...


Mon, 29 Jun 2015 05:24:52 -0700

The stage backdrop appeared to be influenced by the cover of the book A Short History of Tractors In Ukrainian (by Sheffield author Marina Lewycka). The evening opened with the first track from the album, a cover of Back In The USSR, which I thought ...


Fri, 03 Jul 2015 08:46:44 -0700

"A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian" by Marina Lewycka (will have you laughing out loud) and "Hemingway's Chair" by Michael Palin of Monty Python fame. Incidentally, Hemingway wrote standing up so it's not that kind of chair. It's his deep-sea ...

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