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Search tags: Marina-Lewycka
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review 2018-06-03 16:20
The Displaced - Excellent Anthology of Refugee Writers
The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives - Aleksandar Hemon,Marina Lewycka,Ariel Dorfman,Viet Thanh Nguyen,Fatima Bhutto,David Bezmozgis,Porochista Khakpour,Vu Tran,Joseph Kertes,Kao Kalia Yang,Dina Nayeri,Maaza Mengiste,Reyna Grande,Novuyo Rosa Tshuma,Lev Golinkin,Joseph Azam,Thi Bui,Meron Hader

Viet Thanh Nguyen serves as editor for a short but impactful collection of essays about refugees and the refugee experience. I read a lot about immigration. I'm not entirely unaware that many of these stories are actually about refugees, but it's interesting that people often morph themselves into "immigrants," when in fact most of our families came from a refugee experience at some point. My father's family came in dribs and drabs to both coasts (and ended up with numerous spellings of our last name) because of the potato famine in Ireland. Nobody calls our family "refugees" but they were. It was just an easier time to be that when they showed up and pretended to have degrees in things like medicine... (true, but much too long a, story) So, given all of that, it's a willful political act for these writers to reclaim the identity of refugee -- especially given their successes and acceptance now in their new homes.

The tragedy is how these new homes forced people in a variety of ways to deny their original national identities. Some are more obvious than others, but all carry an almost unexplainable burden to the individuals, and I'm pretty sure to their new countries as well. 

Many, but not all, of the writers are now living in the US, and all of them are successful, educated, prize-winning, feted authors. Interesting how willing countries are to claim these refugees now that they have proven their worth. They've come from all over the world and they have personal experiences that frequently left me tearing up. The overall effect is rather devastating. I'm not going to review each piece, because they are all worth reading more than once.

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review 2017-01-18 23:06
Troszkę przydługawa
Dwa domki na kółkach - Marina Lewycka

Bardzo fajna opowieść o losach emigrantów zarobkowych w UK. Jak dla mnie ostatnie 100 stron niepotrzebnie zamieniło się w ckliwe romansidło. I zakończenie też nie powala. Gdyby książka była krótsza o te 100 stron, to nic by nie straciła, a jeszcze lepiej by się ją czytało. Ale ogólnie warto przeczytać.

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review 2016-09-15 12:27
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka

It was funny, admittedly, although not quite as hilarious as all the reviews made it out to be. I guess it just depends on your sense of humour. It took a little while for me to go into this, but once I had it was an enjoyable read - perfect for the holidays. 

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text 2016-06-17 11:18
Really funny and entertaining!
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka

The entire concept of this book is amazing, and it is really funny - but nothing like I expected. Imagine an old man who suddenly discovers new life through a buxom lady - but one whom the family think is after his money. They worry - and have good reason - especially when her relative arrive. Such characters! Why the tractors? It is part of a thesis the old chap is writing, and the short exceprts of this are even interesting in their own right and not boring.

I had the slight feeling the ending was perhaps a little hurried, and the approach to point-of-view was sometimes a little questionable, but such quibbles are purely academic, for the sheer enjoyment outweights them by far. If you want cheering up, just read it! It is one of my favourites.

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review 2016-01-05 00:12
Lots of potential topics but none covered in any depth.
We Are All Made Of Glue - Marina Lewycka

 

It's hard to review this book, as I enjoyed some parts, but also felt that it was trying to be too many things while failing to fully achieve any of them.

 

The main character is Georgie who has separated from her husband and is desperately searching for a man to replace him. Her choice of Mark Diabello could not have grated more, he was such a sleaze-bag and I cringed when she let him anywhere near her.

 

She befriends an elderly lady who lives in a crumbling old mansion and scours the supermarket discounts for bargains. Mrs Shapiro is a Jew who has made her home in Britain after her family fled the Nazis. When she falls and ends in hospital, the vultures start circling, all hoping for a cut of the wealth in her house.

 

The attempts of two real estate agencies to enveigle their way into the house, with a view to its sale, is an effective metaphor for the Israeli-Palestinian issues, but this conflict could have been a more central part of the novel and in my opinion would have made it a much stronger book. As it is, the subject is barely touched on in the early parts, only becoming the central issue towards the end.

 

Georgina also aspires to be a novelist and we endure painful snippets of her prospective romance novel, relating to her daily life and testing out possible ways of writing her experiences.

 

Finally, Georgie's son, Ben has found religion and is convinced that Armageddon is imminent.

 

The use of glue and adhesives (as in the title) is an attempt to bring all these discordant threads together. Most chapters begin with a glue-related title that reflects its meaning within the narrative - irritatingly trying to be clever. And Georgina is an editor for an adhesives magazine.

 

The ending? Hmm, somewhat neatly rounded off with a rather cliche ending, sadly. I had hoped for something a little more profound, having broached the issues of Jewish homelands and Arab evictions.

 

Ms Lewicke's touch of humour does surface from time to time, but I've never found her books to be hilarious. The underlying messages, centering around immigration and migrant workers, have always been the stronger feature.

 

Finally I should mention the narrator of my audiobook, Sian Thomas, who did an excellent job with the accents, particularly Mrs Shapiro and sleaze-bag Mark!

 

Also read:
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (4 stars)
Two Caravans (4 stars)

 

 

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