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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

Strawberry Fields

by

Strawberry Fields Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the author of the international bestseller A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian comes a tender and hilarious novel about a crew of migrant workers from three continents who are forced to flee their English strawberry field for a journey across all of England in pursuit of their various dreams of a better future.

Somewhere in the heart of the green and pleasant land called England is a valley filled with strawberries. A group of migrant workers, who hail from Eastern Europe, China, and Africa have come here to harvest them for delivery to British supermarkets, and end up living in two small trailer homes, a men's trailer and a woman's trailer. They are all seeking a better life (and in their different ways they are also, of course, looking for love) and they've come to England, some legally, some illegally, to find it. They are supervised — some would say exploited — by Farmer Leaping, a red-faced Englishman who treats everyone equally except for the Polish woman named Yola, the boss of the crew, who favors him with her charms in exchange for something a little extra on the side. But the two are discreet, and all is harmonious in this cozy vale — until the evening when Farmer Leaping's wife comes upon him and Yola and does what any woman would do in this situation: She runs him down in her red sports car. By the time the police arrive the migrant workers have piled into one of the trailer homes and hightailed it out of their little arcadia, thus setting off one of the most enchanting, merry, and moving picaresque journeys across the length and breadth of England since Chaucer's pilgrims set off to Canterbury.

Along the way, the workers' fantasies about England keep rudely bumpinginto the ignominious, brutal, and sometimes dangerous realities of life on the margins for migrs in the new globalized labor market. Some of them meet terrible ends, some give up and go back home, but for those who manage to hang in for the full course of this madcap ride, the rewards — like the strawberries — prove awfully sweet — especially for the young Ukrainians from opposite sides of the tracks, Andriy and Irina, whose initial mutual irritation blossoms into love.

Review:

"'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 nave 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.' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"I'm glad I'm not Marina Lewycka's agent, because I've done a terrible job of pitching 'Strawberry Fields.' Every time I try to describe it to friends, it comes out like this: 'See, there are these Eastern European migrant workers in England, and they go from one terrible job to the next, and they can't catch a break to save their lives. One of them is kidnapped by a pimp, two others are pretty much... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Strawberry Fields stands along the best of Zadie Smith and Monica Ali. It is sometimes outrageous, sometimes bawdy and constantly entertaining." Seattle Times

Review:

"[A] comedy about a somber subject: the exploitation of migrant workers....But in Lewycka's picaresque version, comic nearly always beats tragic." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"At a time when volcanic shifts in the global economy are creating new fissures between peoples and societies, Strawberry Field should be compulsory reading for anyone who wishes to delve into the human stories trapped within the cracks." St. Petersburg Times

Review:

"Lewycka manages to rein in her sometimes sophomoric tone with wry insight. It is finally the author's keen understanding of how a global consciousness and labor market have come together with a changing European economy that gives this book its gravity and strength." Library Journal

Review:

"The author's ambition is laudable. So is her skill in creating characters that flirt with ethnic commonplaces and then transcend them." Newsday

Review:

"Some of the comic energy of the novel emerges from the difficulties characters encounter with the language barrier....Strawberry-sweet, but not too syrupy." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Lewycka's stylistic quirks can sometimes fall flat...but the jostle of voices creates an effervescent comedy, beneath which lies a more sombre look at the costs of globalization." New Yorker

Review:

"Strawberry Fields contains bushels of food for thought. Its digestibility depends on the stomach of each reader." San Francisco Chronicle

About the Author

Marina Lewycka is the author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, which has been translated into 30 languages, has sold more than 750,000 copies worldwide, and was nominated for the Booker and Orange Prizes. She is married, with a grown-up daughter, and lives in England.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781594201370
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Lewycka, Marina
Publisher:
Penguin Press HC, The
Subject:
Humorous
Subject:
England
Subject:
Agricultural laborers
Copyright:
Edition Description:
American
Publication Date:
20070816
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9.44x6.44x1.00 in. 1.19 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Strawberry Fields Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Penguin Press - English 9781594201370 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'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 nave 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.' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Strawberry Fields stands along the best of Zadie Smith and Monica Ali. It is sometimes outrageous, sometimes bawdy and constantly entertaining."
"Review" by , "[A] comedy about a somber subject: the exploitation of migrant workers....But in Lewycka's picaresque version, comic nearly always beats tragic."
"Review" by , "At a time when volcanic shifts in the global economy are creating new fissures between peoples and societies, Strawberry Field should be compulsory reading for anyone who wishes to delve into the human stories trapped within the cracks."
"Review" by , "Lewycka manages to rein in her sometimes sophomoric tone with wry insight. It is finally the author's keen understanding of how a global consciousness and labor market have come together with a changing European economy that gives this book its gravity and strength."
"Review" by , "The author's ambition is laudable. So is her skill in creating characters that flirt with ethnic commonplaces and then transcend them."
"Review" by , "Some of the comic energy of the novel emerges from the difficulties characters encounter with the language barrier....Strawberry-sweet, but not too syrupy."
"Review" by , "Lewycka's stylistic quirks can sometimes fall flat...but the jostle of voices creates an effervescent comedy, beneath which lies a more sombre look at the costs of globalization."
"Review" by , "Strawberry Fields contains bushels of food for thought. Its digestibility depends on the stomach of each reader."
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