A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka is one of those books you pick up because of the cover artwork, not because of its title. It’s almost a black comedy, there’s alot of neraly farcical situations around the story of a Valentina, a 30 something Russian immigrant who demands pricey consumer products ( In former Soviet Union all cookers are white. Crap cookers . . . for civilised person, cooker must be gas, must be brown. ) from her besoted OAP husband,Nikolai, the father of the books narrator. While trying to sort out the chaos created by this realtionship she uncovers the sorry tale of her Ukrainian family and how they ended up in England. The books title comes from the novel the father is writing and how tractors were turned into tanks in the war that transformed thier families life.
It’s well written and very thought provoking – there are lot of references at the back which I’m going to follow up in order to understand the underlying story a bit more – I didn’t do any history at school and so I’m very ignorant of the 2nd world war, part from what I’ve seen in films!