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Last Updated: Monday, 6 June, 2005, 10:07 GMT 11:07 UK
Debut novelist takes comic prize
Marina Lewycka
Marina Lewycka was the first female winner of the comic fiction prize
A writer's debut novel has beaten titles by established authors Malcolm Pryceat and Terry Pratchett to a comic fiction prize at Hay literary festival.

Marina Lewycka won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.

A dark family comedy, the novel was mistakenly filed in booksellers' agricultural sections on its release.

Born in a refugee camp after World War II, Lewycka has also been shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

'Captivating humour'

Lewycka drew on her Ukrainian heritage to tell the story of feuding sisters Nadezhda and Vera.

The characters attempt to save their father from his young Ukrainian wife's dream of western luxury.

Festival director Peter Florence said: "It's a comic masterpiece, a stunning novel of considerable humanity, created with captivating humour and compassion, it's a real pleasure to read.

"We all know this family. They are as familiar as Goneril and Regan or Geraldine and Daphne."

Lewycka was the first female winner of the prize, which included having a pig - bred on the hills above Hay-on-Wye - named after the novel.

Her novel beat Pratchett's Going Postal and Pryce's The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth among others.

The 10-day festival at Hay-on-Wye, on the Wales-England border, ended on Sunday after appearances by writers including Ian McEwan and celebrities Goldie Hawn, Jane Fonda, Bob Geldof, Julian Clary and Sting.


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