Political perspectives of two Ukrainians

2008-10-02 08:05

Marina Lewycka made a name for herself with the publication of her first novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. Her focus in Two Caravans is on the influx of masses of disillusioned and dream-filled individuals, notably from eastern Europe, who seek opportunities for casual, unskilled labour in England. Hoping for financial gain and perhaps the chance of a romance, such people are all too frequently exploited both by indigenous employers and by the unscrupulously ambitious among their own fellows.

While Lewycka assembles a considerable international cast - which includes people from the Far East and Africa, a host of eastern Europeans, a miscellany of stereotypes from the spectrum of British society and even a stray dog - her narrative is particularly concerned with the fortunes of two Ukrainians, Irina and Andriy, who represent differing political perspectives and social standing in that country.

The narrative highlights the conditions of strawberry pickers in Kent, of those working in the chicken farming industry, of those who attempt fishing off the Dover pier, of those who are employed as waitrons and kitchen hands, of those who succumb to, or are forced into, prostitution. It is told in a number of voices - the authorial voice interjected with the first person observations of protagonist, Irina; with the anthropomorphised thoughts of Dog; and with letters penned by a naïve Malawian, in a floral style replete with the malapropisms that bedevil second-language communication.

Despite the fundamentally serious nature of the material and some shocking revelations - notably about the chicken farming business - Lewycka writes with fun and frolic that descends - rather too often - into farce. Thus the work is essentially light and its impact will not be lingering. One closes the novel with a sense of having spent some pleasant hours among its pages. That is all.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.