14 May 2016

A Short history of tractors in Ukrainian

BookA Short history of tractors in Ukrainian 
Author: Marina Lewycka
Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ukraine, tractors, history - the title of the book gives out the setting of the story. But it doesn't tell you a bit about the craziness and fun inside it. The history of a generation and a family intertwined with tractors and a war. It has sharp humor, funny characters, fascinating plot and interesting twists. Unlike most books it doesn't have black and white characters, or narrates only one side of the story. It shows stories from all angles but it also shows that stories told in second or third person can be different from each other. How one person sees the story and characters from his vantage point verses the other can decide the history and the future. 

The best part of this book was that I got introduced to a new country, a completely new culture, economy, history and society of Ukraine. Did you know Ukraine has long been a global breadbasket because of its extensive, fertile farmlands, and it remains one of the world's largest grain exporters. The diversified economy of Ukraine includes a large heavy industry sector, particularly in aerospace and industrial equipment. Now imagine the great engineering marvel of a country torn by war and poverty, pushing its genius and people out into the world to meet their needs. Trying to build a life, an identity, a home in a strange country. The story has many layers - complications of father-daughter relationship, senile loneliness of old age, childhood that binds the siblings, motherhood and its challenges, sham marriages and immigration laws, heritage and heirs, history and stories, broken cars and engineering miracles....

In summary, I can clearly say Marina Lewycka is definitely going to be on my list of recommended authors. The book is crazy roller coaster. A simple story told in the most humorous way that will stay with you forever. Here is some proof of the quirky pudding - 

He always speaks to me in English, eccentrically accented and articled but functional. Engineer's English. My mother spike to me in Ukrainian, with its infinite gradations of tender diminutives. Mother tongue. 

When I was little, my mother used to tell me family stories - but only the ones that had a happy ending. My sister also told me stories: her stories were strongly formulaic, with goodies and baddies. It always had a beginning, a middle, an end, and a moral. Sometimes my father told me stories, too, but his stories were complicated in structures, ambiguous in meaning and unsatisfactory in outcome, with lengthy digressions and packed with obscure facts. I preferred my mother's and sister's tales. 

My father forbade me to wear make up. He said "If all women were to wear paint on their faces, just think, there could be no more natural selection. The inevitable result would be the ugly fixation of the species." Such an intellectual. Why couldn't he be like normal fathers, and just say he didn't like it? 

The secret of mothers soup was plenty of salt (they both suffered from high blood pressure), a big knob of butter ( they didn't worry about cholesterol), and vegetables, garlic and herbs fresh from the garden. 

Do you know the theory of panopticon? English philosopher Jeremy Bantham. Is design for the perfect prison. Jailer sees everything, from every angle, and yet himself remains invisible. 


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