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Madonna in a Fur Coat

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  33,789 ratings  ·  2,234 reviews

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

ebook, Penguin Modern Classics, 168 pages
Published May 5th 2016 by Penguin (first published 1943)
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Average rating 4.45  · 
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 ·  33,789 ratings  ·  2,234 reviews

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May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, turkey
Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali is considered one of the foremost Turkish classics of the 20th century. Written in 1941 and describing how both Germany and Turkey had changed following the Great War, this classic is now available in English for the first time. Using the life of a translation clerk named Raif Efendi as a metaphor to show how the world has changed, Ali delivers a hidden gem of a classic to western readers.

Our story begins as a narrator in search of work finds employment
Steven Godin
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was staggered to learn that when released in 1943, Sabahattin Ali's achingly heartfelt novel made no impression whatsoever. Even Decades later, when 'Madonna in a Fur coat' was passed around between family and friends it's position continued to be ignored by the literary world, seen by some as nothing more than a puzzling aberration, a book easily weep over without any solid substance to back it up, I disagree. It may just be a simply told love story drenched in melancholy, but it must be ...more
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: turkish, love
Turkish literature was brought into the spotlight in recent years, with writers like Orhan Pamuk and Elif Şafak being known and read internationally. I prefer to look for the less popular ones, though; and, while Sabahattin Ali is well-known in his home country, his work is unfortunately not available in most international translations, particularly in English.
Kürk Mantolu Madonna ("Madonna in a Fur Coat") is a short but masterly novel. It is the love story of Raif Bey, a young Turkish
28.02.2017: ISTANBUL — A young Turkish man arrives in 1920s Berlin. Ignoring his business of soap manufacturing, he spends his days learning German and his nights reading books — especially the Russians, and especially Turgenev. He explores the city’s parks, its wide streets, its museums and art galleries. He is looking, as he put it, for something, “to sweep me off my feet.”

He finds it one evening at a gallery, where he stands transfixed in front of a painting of a young woman dressed in a fur
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly beautiful book about a Turkish man who goes to Berlin in the roaring 20-ties. During a visit to an exposition of modern art, our shy and asocial young man is attracted by the self portrait of a young woman, the Madonna in a fur coat. Intrigued as he is by this work of art, he goes looking for the artist Maria. What follows is the story of a subdued yet great passion of two sequestered and wounded young people. Notwithstanding the fact that happy endings do not exist in these types of ...more
4 and a half stars.

This is a tricky one to review. It's not a new story (it was originally written in the 40s), nor is it especially original: I think star-crossed lovers must be the oldest story in the world. But this one is written with such melancholy, longing, introspection and quiet passion that it turned out to be unlike any story of love lost I have read before.

A quiet, very lonely young man from Turkey goes to Berlin in the late 1920s, in order to study so he can eventually take over his
A wonderful story of unfulfilled love and lost opportunities. This is a tale of a shy young man’s exhilarating experience of devoted love of a modern woman against the backdrop of social innovation and artistic ferment in Berlin between the two world wars. The rollercoaster of successes and failures in this romance are classic, as are the triumphs and tragedies. But this is no melodrama. It confronts the challenges to achieving the balance in the relationship between the sexes in a way that ...more
“The pain of losing something precious –– be it earthly happiness or material wealth –– can be forgotten over time. But our missed opportunities never leave us, and every time they come back to haunt us, we ache." (p. 154)

My attention was drawn to Sabahattin Ali’s Madonna in a Fur Coat thanks to this compelling review in The Guardian:

According to the above-mentioned review, Sabahattin Ali’s Madonna in a Fur Coat (*) which was first published in 1943 “has
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gave 5 to this book, because even when reading it really attracts you. And when you finished the book you have to stop and to think each events and each choices in the story.

Actually the story is a classic story. If you look just the summary of this book you can say i have read dozens of similar books. But depictions of the characters, their deepness and realism binds you to the characters and to the book. At the end, you laugh when they laugh and inevitably become sad when they are sad.

Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I get a bit suspicious going into these 'lost classics' - mainly because y'know, they're not really lost, they just haven't been canonised by some white dudes in the West - they have a very specific woe-is-me melancholy that appealed to me when i was in my twenties and v serious and not much fun. (Who am i kidding, i was ALWAYS crazy fun). But ya know what? This was really touching. Nostalgic, wrenching, romantic...and Maria is totally not your usual male-fantasy, muse-type bore, she was complex ...more

This was beautiful in all its layers. In other hands, Efendi's apathy towards the world would have gnawed on my nerves, but in Ali's deft hands Efendi is sympathetic and complex. Thank god, because every time I'm harsh on these characters it's always in the back of my mind that it's only because I see myself reflected in them. And I did see myself in Efendi, but... my hero, and I believe Ali's intended true hero, was Maria Puder, or the Madonna in a Fur Coat. Efendi falls in love with the self


At his new job in Ankara, the narrator shares an office with the taciturn Raif Efendi. Raif’s meekness borders on the exasperating. He seems to delight in taking the brunt of his superiors’ unjust beratings, he is misunderstood by his wife and children and looked down upon by practically everybody else. However, the narrator cannot help feeling that behind this exterior, Raif harbours some secret, and he longs to discover more about his mysterious colleague’s past. When, at last, Raif takes
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Alas, this one didn't speak to me. And, given the (extraordinarily) high numerical Goodreads reader ratings, I have to assume I was an outlier in failing to see the hidden beauty buried in this slim volume. Sadly (no pun intended), whatever poignancy there was in this little tragedy was - for the most part - lost on me.

Maybe I just read it at the wrong time - in my life, of the month, or... who knows. My sense is that I just wasn't fully in the mood for - or open to getting sucked into - this
Sakshi Kathuria
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A tale of a meek & shy young Turkish man and his devotion of love and all that is lost after he meets a strange woman against the backdrop between the period of two world wars in Berlin. I love how Turkish men are attune to thinking from heart and goes deeper to describe their love for nature and women. The mystery around the central character of a woman in discussion keeps the readers wondering and adds another dimension to the theme of missed chances at love and fulfillment.
Anna Luce
“All I could feel was a terrible hollowness in my heart. A door had opened, promising the sublime, but then it had slammed shut, robbing my life of all hope and meaning. I felt as bereft as if I'd woken from the sweetest of dreams to face the pain of truth.”

Rating: 4.2 Stars

Madonna in a Fur Coat surprised me in many ways.
I thought that it had been written in contemporary times, and was simply set in the early-ish 20th century rather and it was only after reading a good part of it that I
Amy | shoutame
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, adult, classics
This one really took me by surprise, there was a point in the beginning where I came very close to putting it down but I pushed through and ended up loving it.

Set in 1920's Berlin we follow the story of a young Turkish man as he tries to make his way in the world. Whilst exploring Berlin's streets, bars and galleries he stumbles across a painting of a woman which changes the course of his life. He finds this painting to be so captivating that he spends most of his free time visiting the gallery
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Unsettling and Exasperating"

This is a book of love, friends and loss. It explores the depths of your mind to find the true meaning of life. Raif is a man of hidden emotions. This novel explores the emotions and ups and downs of Raif's life, by a co-worker. At the end Raif realizes "Life is a game that is only played once , and I lost". I've never before read a book with the deep mentality of this book.
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was reading "Kürk Mantolu Madonna", I said this can not be good to be true.But the end is the best and much more effective.Enjoy it.Highly recommended.
"Some passions becomes our guide through life. Wraps us in its arms. We go after them without any questions, and we know that we wont never regret."
Resh (The Book Satchel)
Slow read, predictable plot, great characters, mysterious heroine.

Set in 1920's Berlin we follow a young Turkish man who stumbles across a painting of a woman. He spends most of his free time visiting the gallery and staring at this painting. And one day he meets the woman. I loved how the plot was predictable, yet Sabahattin Ali captivates the reader to keep reading.

PS: A majority of the novel is not set in Turkey. I would recommend the read for the great character sketches than a sense of
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
It is a story of shy, lonely, introvert clerk (Raif Efendi) who is subject to harassment and bully in the place he works. he actually is a talented emotional smart artist with very deep thought but he lives a loveless life with his family while he is still suffering from an old love wound.
Young Raif Efendi with a deep passion in art and drawing leaves the college and goes to Berlin to get some job experience to later help his dad with his family business. During his usual visit to art centres
Belinda Carvalho
3-3.5 stars but a very worthwhile read if interested in the period.
This is a really interesting novella, a young love story set in 1920's Berlin and written in late 1930's Turkey. It stems from one of my favourite periods of 20th cent lit and is very reminiscent of Stefan Zweig's work, the travel, time period, fate intervening and an obsessive love affair.

Madonna in a Fur Coat is a story within a story. The narrator shares an office in Ankara with meek, overly calm, shy Raif and becomes
Life is a game that is only played once, and I lost. There is no second chance.
Esther | braveliteraryworld
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poc
Read in one sitting. This was great. Such a book hangover after this.
Missy J
Wow. What a book. It took me some time to search for a copy of this book. I ended up finding a German translation of it at the local library. Ute Birgi did an excellent job translating this. Usually I don't really enjoy reading in German (I don't know why, I just enjoy reading books in English, it's always fun and flows nicely). But this translation was so beautiful, the sentences flowed and she didn't write in a complicated German way. I don't know much about the Turkish language, but I imagine ...more
Mehmed Gokcel
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fav, favorites
One of my favorite books.
Actually, maybe, my favorite book.

I always apprecited Sabahattin Ali's pessimism even though i'm a hardcore optimist.

This book brings a new meaning to the "impossible love story"..

The thing is, i didn't know about this book.
When i was in high school there was a band and i was in love with their music.
The best song ot theirs was "Kürk Mantolu Madonna".
Then i searched and found this book.

I immediatly bought it, then read it in one breath. (i don't know if this is the
Real Readers Book Club (Me) - December 2017
Review copy provided by Boxwalla - November 2017

What an incredible book and one that will stay with me for quite some time. I’m hesitant to write a full review, since I’ll be discussing this with my book group in January. So, I’ll leave it without a rating or a full review until we discuss. Needless to say, it is a beautifully written and memorable book.
Liina Bachmann
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
This book could easily be the gold standard for melancholy love stories with unhappy endings. Set in 1920's Berlin winter it reeks of bittersweetness and missed opportunities. It really is a fur coat with a faint hint of Serge Lutens' "La Fille de Berlin", pale skin, snowstorms in empty streets, cold lonely pension rooms, the weight of the wait and cognac to keep one warm. A beautiful love story.
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: europe, 2018
I was looking forward to this "forgotten classic" so it pains me a bit to say that I was underwhelmed. It wasn't bad, yet it wasn't great. It was a bit too angsty for me.

Maybe these so-called "love stories" just aren't my thing.
A lovely story about intimacy and its relationship to love, and existence in the aftermath of loss of both.
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Around the World ...: Discussion for Madonna in a Fur Coat 6 41 Jun 11, 2018 06:02AM  
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Marmara: Kürk Mantolu Madonna 1 19 Oct 27, 2015 09:26AM  
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.. 9 177 Mar 05, 2014 02:36PM  

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Sabahattin Ali (February 25, 1907 – April 2, 1948) was a Turkish novelist, short-story writer, poet, and journalist.

He was born in 1907 in Eğridere township (now Ardino in southern Bulgaria) of the Sanjak of Gümülcine (now Komotini in northern Greece), in the Ottoman Empire. He lived in Istanbul, Çanakkale and Edremit before he entered the School of Education in Balıkesir. Then, he was transferred
“Hayatta yalnız kalmanın esas olduğunu hâlâ kabul edemiyor musunuz? Bütün yakınlaşmalar, bütün birleşmeler yalancıdır. İnsanlar ancak muayyen bir hadde kadar birbirlerine sokulabilirler, üst tarafını uydururlar; ve günün birinde hatalarını anlayınca, yeislerinden her şeyi bırakıp kaçarlar. Halbuki mümkün olanla kanaat etseler, hayallerindekini hakikat zannetmekten vazgeçseler bu böyle olmaz.” 209 likes
“İnsanlara ne kadar çok muhtaç olursam onlardan kaçmak ihtiyacım da o kadar artıyordu.” 198 likes
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