It is notoriously impossible to predict with any real accuracy what will fly off the shelves at bookstores, and the literary agent Pat Kavanagh, for one, had reasons to believe that A Short History of Tractors In Ukrainian, Lewycka’s sensational debut, had all the ingredients of a catastrophic dud. When she sent off her manuscript to Kavanagh’s offices she received a straight rejection — unnecessarily crushing, I thought, for containing the words “we cannot summon sufficient enthusiasm”.The Times also has more about her new book, Two Caravans, as well as an extract.
Lewycka suspects that her precious manuscript went straight into the slush pile unread: “I think editors and agents only want to commission books.”
He opens the barn door and they wade into the roiling sea of chickens. The chickens squawk and screech and try to flap out of their way, but there is nowhere for them to go. They try to flutter upwards but their wings are too weak for their overgrown bodies and they just scramble desperately on top of each other, kicking up a terrible stinking dust of feathers and faeces. Tomasz feels something live crunch under his foot, and hears a squawk of pain. He must have stepped on one, but really it is impossible not to.