Category Archives: book

How Ukrainian is ‘A Short History of Tractors’?

I was reading Marina Lewycka’s ‘A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian’ and noticed something very odd on page 11:

The Ukrainian flag is two oblongs of colour, blue over yellow — yellow for the cornfields, blue for the sky.

Cornfields – really? Certainly different than the Ukrainian teaching I’ve received at my elementary schools.  The Wikipedia entry on the Flag of Ukraine sets the record straight:

The color blue of the Ukrainian Flag represents the color of the sky, and yellow symbolizes the lush golden wheat fields of this country.

It’s not terribly difficult to imagine why:

And while it’s a good novel and has won all sorts of awards, Marina you’ll have to do a better job when you represent us!

New Ukrainian Canadian novel centered around Georgian Bay

The Washington Post recently reviewed the latest novel from Ukrainian-Canadian author Janice Kulyk Keefer, titled Ladies’ Lending Library:

But if you’re in the market for a deeply thoughtful, beautifully written novel about first- and second-generation Ukrainians struggling to fit into comparatively bland, prosperous and easy Canadian society, this is absolutely your book. The setting is out-of-the-way Kalyna Beach, based on the real Georgian Bay, part of Lake Huron. An enterprising Ukrainian real estate agent has bought up a stretch of sand and bluffs and sold off lots to members of a Ukrainian community who live about six hours away, in Toronto. It is the mark of any upwardly mobile family to be able to send the wives and children away to a resort during the muggy summer months, and many families here do it, but at great psychic cost. Most of the men have been successful; one is even a millionaire who summers in a big house way up on the highest bluff. The other houses are ramshackle cabins, and the wives, though they have the luxury of an eight-week vacation, have their children to take care of, dishes to wash and laundry to do down in their respective basements, rubbing their knuckles raw on old-fashioned washboards.

Read more, as well as an Amazon review.

Janice has written many books about the Ukrainian experience in Canada, her most notable is Honey and ashes: A story of family about her family’s immigration experience to Toronto.

There are quite a bit of Ukrainians in cottage-country Ontario, close to Toronto there are large pockets in Hawkstone, Sauble Beach and Tiny Township.


Orwell’s Ukrainian edition of Animal Farm

In March of 1947, famous author George Orwell wrote a preface to his popular anti-totalitarianism novel Animal Farm for displaced Ukrainian citizens throughout Europe.

From Wikipedia:

This Ukrainian edition was an early propaganda use of the book. It was printed to be distributed among the Soviet citizens of Ukraine who were some of the many millions of displaced persons throughout Europe at the end of the Second World War. The American occupation forces considered the edition to be propaganda printed on illegal presses, and handed 1,500 confiscated copies of Animal Farm over to the Soviet authorities. The politics in the book also affected the UK, with Orwell reporting that Ernest Bevin was “terrified”.[6] that it may cause embarrassment if published before the 1945 general election.

You can read the Ukrainian preface online, as it and the rest of the book are now considered public domain in various countries (Canada, Russia, Austrailia but not USA).