Monday 13 June 2016

Ali, Sabahattin "Madonna in a Fur Coat"

Ali, Sabahattin "Madonna in a Fur Coat" (Turkish: Kürk Mantolu Madonna) - 1943

Another great book I might not have found it wasn't for the lovely Turkish members of our book club.

We are going back to the time between the two wars, we can see both the life in Ankara and Berlin during that time behind a classic set-up. A man and a woman, a love story that doesn't have much hope.

I liked the style of the story, looking back into a life that has been through a diary. And the writing, the writing is just marvellous. The description of all the characters is so deep, the story so realistic that you almost think these people must have existed, for sure. There is an artist called Maria Puder who painted the "Madonna in a Fur Coat", a self-portrait. I was almost tempted to search for her on the internet.

The description of the protagonist are also so detailed, you can follow his thoughts and his feelings, really understand him, maybe even better than he understands himself.

It was interesting to compare my thoughts with our Turkish members, how they saw the people and the incidents, especially since part of the story was in Berlin and part in Ankara, we both had our contributions to the discussion, a background that related to parts of the story. I was told that this book has only become widely read in Turkey in the last five years and that it has been the best selling book ever since.

I will surely read more books by this wonderful author.

We discussed this in our book club in June 2016.

From the back cover: "The bestselling Turkish classic of love and longing in a changing world, available in English for the first time.

'It is, perhaps, easier to dismiss a man whose face gives no indication of an inner life. And what a pity that is: a dash of curiosity is all it takes to stumble upon treasures we never expected.'

A shy young man leaves his home in rural Turkey to learn a trade in 1920s Berlin. The city's crowded streets, thriving arts scene, passionate politics and seedy cabarets provide the backdrop for a chance meeting with a woman, which will haunt him for the rest of his life. Emotionally powerful, intensely atmospheric and touchingly profound, Madonna in a Fur Coat is an unforgettable novel about new beginnings and the unfathomable nature of the human soul. 'Passionate but clear . . . Ali's success [is in ] his ability to describe the emergence of a feeling, seemingly straightforward from the outside but swinging back and forth between opposite extremes at its core, revealing the tensions that accompanies such rise and fall.' Atilla Özkirimli, writer and literary historian."

I read the German translation of this book.


  1. I like the sound of this one. I am adding it to my list of novels from around the world.

    1. It certainly is a good one for that list. If you want to read more about the Turkey of today, I highly recommend Orhan Pamuk. He is one of my favourite authors.

      Hope you enjoy all those books I recommend. ;)

      Happy Reading,