I don’t normally read fiction. I generally read factual books, eg … for Dummies books. Having said that, the last book I read was Look Who’s Back, the English-language translation of Er Ist Wieder Da. Maybe I’m getting into fiction and plot development in my middle age?
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, despite the somewhat unusual book title, earned rave reviews when it came out in 2006. (Or was it 2008?) I myself bought my copy at Düsseldorf Christ Church Anglican church Advent market in December 2013. Only this week did I start reading it. The Spectator‘s reviewer described A Short History as “funny.” Certainly, the book is funny. Especially during the first chapter, I was laughing out loud, in part because I remember the “passport-hunter” Russian women and the naive/gullible/desperate to have a woman/desperate to get married British students from my year abroad in the Soviet Union/Russia 1991-1992. Nonetheless, as I turned further pages at fairly rapid rate, I was chuckling and grinning broadly less and less. I haven’t yet finished reading the book, but there are a lot of themes in the book, some very sad. When I finished instalment n this afternoon, I had a lump in my throat and damp eyes, after reading about:
- Elder/domestic abuse
- An old man desperate for company/carnal pleasure
- A middle-age woman desperate for the material wealth to be achieved from a new life in the west
- Sisters burying the hatchet in order to fight a common enemy
- A guardianista turning suddenly right-wing when an illegal immigrant’s actions affect her
- Ukrainian-Russian enmity
What will happen at the end? I don’t think it’s a case of “…and they all lived happily ever after.”
Will this book be a school required reading, a la Cider with Rosie or The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time?