Marina Lewycka was born in a refugee camp in Kiel, Germany after World War II. Her family subsequently moved to England where she now lives. She graduated from Keele University in 1968 with BA in English and Philosophy and from the University of York with a BPhil in English Literature in 1969. She began, but did not complete, a PhD at King's College London.
She currently works as a lecturer in media studies at Sheffield Hallam University.
Lewycka's debut novel A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian won the 2005 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic writing at the Hay literary festival, the 2005/6 Waverton Good Read Award, the 2005 Saga Award for Wit; it was long-listed for the 2005 Man Booker Prize and short-listed for the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction. The novel has been translated into over twenty-nine languages, including Romanian, Bulgarian, Dutch, Russian, Norwegian, Italian, Spanish, German, Swedish, Finnish, and Portuguese.
Lewycka said in a 2008 interview that she would have been happy to write a sequel to A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian after the initial book's success but was advised against doing so. Instead she wrote her second novel Two Caravans, which was published in hardback in March 2007 by Fig Tree (Penguin Books) for the United Kingdom market, and was shortlisted for the 2008 Orwell Prize for political writing. In the United States and Canada it is published under the title Strawberry Fields.
Lewycka's third novel We Are All Made of Glue was released in July 2009.
In 2009, she donated the short story "The Importance of Having Warm Feet" to Oxfam's Ox-Tales project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Lewycka's story was published in the 'Earth' collection.
Later the same year, she donated a second short story, "Business Philosophy", to the Amnesty International anthology Freedom: Short Stories Celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In addition to her fiction, Lewycka has written a number of books giving practical advice for carers of elderly people, published by the charity Age Concern.