Back in Black

Over the past seven years, Marina Lewycka has targeted a singular funny bone. Born to Ukrainian parents in a German refugee camp and raised in the U.K., Lewycka, now 65, was on the brink of retiring from her university job when she produced a novel — and gained an agent — via a staff-development course. That debut was 2005's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, a semiautobiographical story about two sisters, involving their aging Ukrainian father, the Anna Nicole Smith — inspired gold-digging object of his affection and some dark family history. Tractors became a commercial and critical...

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