A field of strawberries in Kent ... And sitting in it two caravans - one for the men and one for the women. The residents are from all over: miner's son Andriy is from the old Ukraine, while sexy young Irina is from the new: they eye each other warily. There are the Poles Tomasz and Yola, two Chinese girls and Emanuel from Malawi. They're all here to pick strawberries in England's green and pleasant land. But these days England's not so pleasant for immigrants. Not with Russian gangster-wannabes like Vulk, who's taken a shine to Irina and thinks kidnapping is a wooing strategy. And so Andriy - who really doesn't fancy Irina, honest - must set off in search of that girl he's not in love with.
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Marina Lewycka was born of Ukrainian parents in a refugee camp in Kiel, Germany, at the end of the war, and grew up in England. She is married, with a grown-up daughter, and lives in Sheffield.From Publishers Weekly:
U.K.-based Lewycka, a Booker and Orange Prize nominee for 2005's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, follows up with a Chaucer-inspired tale of migrant workers trapped at global capital's thuggish bottom. After being helped into England by men like Vulk, an armed, lecherous creep of indeterminate former east bloc origins, a disparate group of strawberry pickers begins a pilgrimage-like search for labor across the countryside after their philandering boss is run over and crippled by his wife. Among them are two Ukrainians: Irina, a naïve teenager from Kiev, and Andriy, a former coal miner. After a brief stop in Canterbury, the workers—from Malawi, China, Malaysia and elsewhere—arrive in Dover with their loyal dog. There, they unexpectedly meet shady recruitment consultant Vitaly, who promises jobs in the dynamic resurgence of the poultry industry. The plot moves slowly, and things get worse for the group. Lewycka doesn't have a perfect command of all the cultures she aims to represent, making some of her satires broad and unfunny. There are, however, captivating scenes (some not for the squeamish), and many of the characters are complex and multifaceted, Irina and Andriy in particular. As a send up of capitalism's grip on the global everyman, Lewycka's ensemble novel complements Gary Shteyngart's Absurdistan. (Aug.)
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