Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Serenad” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.39  ·  Rating details ·  10,602 ratings  ·  569 reviews
In this heartbreaking Turkish novel based on the real-life sinking of a refugee ship during World War II, an elderly professor leaves America to revisit the city where he last glimpsed his beloved wife.

Istanbul, 2001. Maya Duran is a single mother struggling to balance a demanding job at Istanbul University with the challenges of raising a teenage son. Her worries increas
Paperback, 484 pages
Published March 2011 by Doğan Kitap
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Serenad, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Deniz Pala Yerinde bir tespit. Zülfi Livaneli' yi edebiyat bilgisi ve tekniği iddialı olmayan bir yazar olarak kabul ediyor ve seviyorum. Hemen hemen bütün kitap…moreYerinde bir tespit. Zülfi Livaneli' yi edebiyat bilgisi ve tekniği iddialı olmayan bir yazar olarak kabul ediyor ve seviyorum. Hemen hemen bütün kitaplarını okudum. Hata bulma konusunda zorlanmazsınız. Konu, anlatım dili ve içtenliği kitaplarını sevdiriyor olmalı. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,602 ratings  ·  569 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Serenad
A lovely historical fiction based on the sinking of the Struma - a refugee ship that was torpedoed off the coast of Istanbul on February 24, 1942. The ship was carrying more than 750 Jewish refugees from Romania en route to Palestine. The book straddles two timelines - 2001 in Istanbul with flash backs to WW II times. A visiting professor from the U.S. travels to Istanbul University to spend a few days and is assigned a staff member - Maya Duran - to guide and assist him during his stay. But Max ...more
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The story is very exciting, fluently and also suspenseful. According the many Livaneli readers, Serenad is the best book of him. Out of the positive impact of the book people can learn many interesting knowledges too especially historical. I did. In my opinion the book is a masterpiece.
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Serenade für Nadia" is not so much a story as it is a song; a song of power and prejudice, of oppression and untold history. Livaneli does a fine job of retelling forgotten affairs and raveling the thin threads weaving human lives together through a series of emotional rollercoasters that gradually wear Maya, the protagonist (view spoiler), down to the point where she forfeits the walls around her obscure world and sees her pre-established ethical cues as subject to c ...more
May 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: turkey
Mostly clunky writing throughout, with plenty of the author's sexism creeping in in his portrayal of his female protagonist, despite what I genuinely believe to have been his intentions to the contrary. But some lovely descriptions of place and fairly engaging storytelling. Worth reading if you have a particular interest in the story or region, or Holocaust narratives based in Turkey (probably not otherwise).
Dec 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Except the emotions of the female character it is an awesome book. The writer couldn't elaborate on the feelings of the main female character. But the story and the way writer tells the story is great. Worth reading it.
Ezgi Ay
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you just wanna a novel for feeling good and you wanna live in a dream ... I feel like that .livaneli is perfect writer .when he look a place or someone,he can see everything about someone or a place Livaneli writes it and I read it
May 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Perfect. One of the great works of must-read
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Simply beautiful! It's a book I plan on gifting to others so that many more people can experience this magic.
Linda McCutcheon
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Serenade For Nadia by Turkish writer Zulfu Livaneli, translated by Brendan Freely, is an historical fiction novel based on real life events between Turkey and Germany during World War II.

I am so grateful for this insightful, thoughtful, respectful novel that has the daunting task of retelling the 1942 tragedy of the Turkish ship Struma that was torpedoed by the Germans killing nearly 800 Jewish refugees on their way to Palestine.

The author opens in the year 2001 where we meet our narrator, Maya
Michelle Haskin
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking, yet hopeful, book. Livaneli’s books always teach me something new about Turkish history and the human spirit. His ability to write from a woman’s perspective is admirable. I only wish that I could read him in the original Turkish. Hopefully some day!
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a love story from beginning to end. I loved the way Livaneli structured the book using Maya as the narrator. The book, with surprising frankness, talks about the many conflicts in Istanbul and in Turkey as a whole. I loved this book and I would read another by him.
I will say I thought at times that the translation was a bit simple but it never hindered the story.
Doreen Fritz
Written by a noted Turkish author, this novel tells the story of two characters: an elderly German professor who returns to Turkey to say a last farewell to his long-dead wife who was killed during WWII, and the woman who is assigned to escort him around town during his visit to Istanbul. This woman, Maya, a divorced woman raising her teenage son, works for the University. She later writes about the professor and tells the story of both him and his wife. There are a lot of red-herring rambles th ...more
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I finished it one day without leaving my hand 🤦🏻‍♀️
Julie Failla Earhart
From one of Turkey’s bestselling authors, Zulfu Livaneli (don’t feel bad, I had never heard of him before either), comes a novel of an extraordinary love story mingled with a forgotten real-life tragedy intermingled with a spy-like thriller that is hard to put down. It’s a story-within a story-within a story that is virtually seamless for the reader. If you enjoyed the complexity of Margaret Atwood’s “The Blind Assassin,” I think you will geek-out with this novel.

Story One takes place on a plane
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have been working, which means less time to read. I read this book very slow. But I think it was for the better, cuz I felt it more. I was living in Turkey for a year, and people there love Livaneli. Thats how I learned about the book. I bought it when i came back home.
In this book we have a divorced mum struggling with work and personal life, a lost kid with divorced parents, a professor who lost the love of his life twice ( when checking for the documents at the train station and on that bo
Jun 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75. I received this book from Shelf Galley, gallery live of the week. While the history of the Struma and its occupants during WWII were fascinating history, the current day story of Maya and her involvement with an elderly Harvard professor did not ring as true. The author’s portrayal of her personality and as a mother did not work for me to view her as the heroine. While Livaneli tried to make us sympathetic to her political views, he failed to convince me that after just a few days Maya was ...more
Feb 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
how I pitied the time I spent reading this...
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
" Serenade " is my recently finished book , Now having a new book on my lap i felt the need of saying a special farewell to this one :)
Goodbyes hurt when the story is not finished in your heart but the book has been closed 💛
No matter what I read after this , my heart will ache like the first day for Maximilian and Nadia's tragic & historical Love Story ( i hate the ignorant love that is being shaped in ur heads as u read this , cause this one is a kind of commitment that only happens in beautifu
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ever since my visit in 1995, I have been interested in Turkey and its Jewish community. So I was very excited to read this newly translated book by one of Turkey's bestselling authors. Livaneli's novel centers around Maya, a single mother who works for Istanbul University in 2001 and is assigned to host a visiting American professor, Max Wagner. During his visit, Maya learns about the many German (both Jewish and Nazi connected) academics who were recruited by the Turkish government to modernize ...more
Josie Krieger
I have never written a review for a book, but I felt compelled to do so because of my overall frustration with this piece. For such a historic injustice, I am disappointed in its retelling by Livaneli. I dare say I felt the character of Maya was quite shallow and I found it apparent that the story—revolving around the lives of multiple women—was written by a man. I saw other comments mention the sexism but my jaw dropped multiple times when I read certain lines. For example: "Life constantly cha ...more
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was glued to this book and felt tears at the end. Once again I learned about a whole new aspect of the scope of WWII Nazi Germany’s infiltration throughout the world. I had no idea that from 1939-1941, famous Jewish scientists fled from Nazi invaders to Turkey! Turkey had declared themselves neutral, however they were torn and coerced by both Nazi Germany and allied forces to side with them. Many scientists fled and were employed by the University of Istanbul.
Maximilian Wagner, a famous scien
Marge Congress
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I read this in conjunction with Midnight at the Pera Palace, which made it even more interesting. Maya is Turkish and leads a pretty simple life. She is asked to escort a visiting professor from Harvard when he visits her Turkish University. This becomes a mysterious situation as he used to teach at that University and has come back to re-visit his memories of his life in Turkey. Along with some pieces of history that sometimes verge on "who cares" to the reader, the descriptions of Istanbul fro ...more
I just now finished this wonderful novel. It's a story with no surprises really, yet you keep reading because you think oh this time it won't happen, it can't happen, i can't bear it again, maybe someone stops them just in time...reminds me of the umpteenth time i went to see Romeo and Juliet. A story with more depth than i had really known, but a story that i keep thinking in the back of my mind will end up differently..
I loved the aged professor whose love spanned the decades. I loved the anci
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the book very much and learned/recalled many historic events, characters in addition to some traditional anecdotes. Being aware and appreciating that Zulfu Livaneli, as an intellectual and well respected writer, scholar and artist, deliberately used an overly simplified narration, cliche opinions, not so good expressions and descriptions to reflect that the protagonist is NOT a writer (as she states in the last pages as well), I still can’t say that I enjoyed the literary aspect of the ...more
Aug 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While neither its narrator, Maya Duran, nor its other major character, visiting Professor Maximilian Wagner, are Jewish, Zulfu Livaneli’s “Serenade for Nadia” (Other Press) does contain several Jewish themes. Livaneli writes about the Jewish professors who were allowed emigrate from Germany and teach in Turkey during World War II, and a ship of 800 Jewish refugees who lost their lives off the coast of Turkey in 1942 when help for their almost-wrecked ship was denied.
Meag McKeron
Jun 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, wwii, translation
Overall a really beautiful, heartbreaking work. The writing was a bit clunky for my taste, but as the story moved a long I realized that’s the whole point - Maya is writing furiously, without edits or rethinking what she’s writing. She’s writing from the heart, and it’s interesting to watch her transform from a somewhat hard and self-absorbed lady into a compassionate woman willing to accept her own faults and help others. The history of Turkey during WWII was also interesting to read, as I knew ...more
Samira Majd
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have great respect for books with valuable stories and valuable information in them. Only scarcely does a book breathe through me like this. Although, at first I had the impression that this was a mediocre novel, I was caught by emotion and surprise after reading 50 pages of it. I do not know how but this book turned into an extremely personal experience of mine. One that I would only share with my better half... kudos to Livaneli.
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Definitely in my top 10.

I used to think that events that happened in the past and which we can no longer change or improve like WW2 was being used as a cover to ignore today's problems and issues about which we can do something and improvise the situation.

This book changed my perspective and helped me see the WW2 beyond the textbooks. This book made me research and expand my knowledge of the WW2.

I'm so grateful to have read this book.
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I confess I didn't think I was going to like this book and was prepared to read a few chapters and set it aside. Was I wrong! Once I opened the book and started reading I couldn't put it down. Serenade for Lydia takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster that will be hard to forget. Definitely one of the most compelling and best written books I've read this year. Treat yourself, you deserve it.
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Turkish Reading C...: Serenad ile ilgili tartışma 11 127 Nov 03, 2014 03:30AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Kürk Mantolu Madonna
  • İçimizdeki Şeytan
  • Kuyucaklı Yusuf
  • Adı: Aylin
  • İstanbul Hatırası
  • Piraye
  • Bir Ömür Nasıl Yaşanır?
  • Olağanüstü Bir Gece
  • Beyaz Zambaklar Ülkesinde
  • Amok Koşucusu
  • Puslu Kıtalar Atlası
  • Beyoğlu'nun En Güzel Abisi
  • Aylak Adam
  • Dokuzuncu Hariciye Koğuşu
  • Bab-ı Esrar
  • Kumral Ada Mavi Tuna
  • İnsan Ne İle Yaşar?
  • Camdaki Kız
See similar books…
O.Z. Livaneli (in Turkish Zülfü Livaneli) born in 1946, is a singer, a composer, a bestselling Turkish author and a poet who is considered one of the most significant and influential authors and intellectuals of his time. His books have won numerous literary awards, both in his home country and abroad.

Although his novels are viewed as highly literary, Livaneli is considered the best selling contem

News & Interviews

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  Theodor Geisel said...
7 likes · 0 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Bu dünyada sana kötülük yapmak isteyen insanlar çıkacak karşına, ama unutma ki iyilik yapmak isteyenler de çıkacak. Kimi insanın yüreği karanlık, kimininki aydınlıktır. Geceyle gündüz gibi! Dünyanın kötülerle dolu olduğunu düşünüp küsme, herkesin iyi olduğunu düşünüp hayal kırıklığına uğrama! Kendini koru ..., insanlara karşı kendini koru!” 35 likes
“Coğrafya kaderdir.” 9 likes
More quotes…