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Without a Country

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  6,857 ratings  ·  494 reviews
From the international bestselling author of Last Train to Istanbul comes a novel based on true events that explores the depths of pride, devotion, and persistence as four generations of a family struggle to forge their destinies.

As Hitler’s reign of terror begins to loom large over Germany, Gerhard and Elsa Schliemann—like other German Jews—must flee with their children i
Kindle Edition, 316 pages
Published July 1st 2018 by AmazonCrossing (first published October 2016)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  6,857 ratings  ·  494 reviews

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Katie B
By the early 1930s, Gerhard Schliemann knows that his family is no longer safe living in Germany because they are Jewish. He eventually finds employment in Turkey and soon his wife and two children join him and attempt to adapt to life in their new country. This is a historical fiction book that not only follows generations of a family from the 1930s to present day but also the country of Turkey as it undergoes massive changes throughout the years.

What really drew me into the book was the settin
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’m assuming that something was lost in translation with this book. The story had to potential to be a great one, but it seemed like the author was trying to tell too much in not enough pages. The second half of the book felt rushed, and much of it felt like a recitation of facts rather than a narrative. A lot of the dialogue felt forced, and there was not much character development in the second half.
Joy D
Multi-generational family saga that takes place mostly in Turkey over a period of over eighty years. It starts with a family of Jewish Germans fleeing Hitler prior to the start of WWII. The story begins in 1933 with Dr. Gerhard Schliemann, his wife Elsa, and their two children, Peter and Susy, leaving their home at short notice and eventually making their way to Turkey. Gerhard and other Jewish scientists are hired by a Turkish university to help with the modernization of their curriculum. Altho ...more
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres, especially stories where Jews and the Nazis are concerned. This book was a little different to many stories that i have read, mainly due to the family making Turkey their home after fleeing Germany. This was a very enjoyable book and the further i read, the quicker i was turning the pages. I am not going to write about the story, as i do prefer one to read the book for themselves, but i do recommend this wonderful saga.

My thanks to Netgalley and
Unfortunately what could have been a really good book, was in fact just average. How much of this is due to the translation I'm not sure, but the story didn't live up to the great family saga that I had been lead to expect.

Spanning approximately 100 years, from pre WWII Germany to 21st century Turkey, it had all the elements of a great story - jews escaping from the nazi's, new life established in Turkey, four generations of strong women, building of modern Turkey, various love stories etc. but
Thanks to Kenneth Dakan for translating Ayse Kulin’s book from the original Turkish publication and giving readers the opportunity to experience Turkey over four generations with a Jewish family - the Schlimanns. In the 1930s, Dr. Gerhard and Elsa Schlimann and their young family fled Germany and via Switzerland settle in Turkey. One of many Jewish families, the Schlimanns begin a new life in Istanbul, each generation attempting to integrate into Turkish society in their own way - each at a diff ...more
This was my choice for the Amazon Prime 'free' book for June and I chose it because I'd previously read 'Rose of Sarajevo' by the same author and recognised the name. Unfortunately I found the book rather disappointing. It's a four generation 'saga' that tracks the evolution of a family in Istanbul. The first generation were a Jewish academic and his family, fleeing from the Nazis to help Ataturk set up universities in Turkey. The second generation focuses on German-born but Turkish naturalised ...more
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The problem with this novel is that it’s just too ambitious. To encapsulate the entire history of modern Turkey – from 1933 to the present – through the story of four generations of one family covers too much ground and involves too many characters, leading to a lack of depth in the characterisation and a rather bewildering gallop through a complex era full of incident. The author tackles a lot of weighty themes – identity, nationality, culture, loyalty, anti-Semitism, Jewishness and so on - but ...more
Gail Smith
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This family saga begins as a German pathologist learns that he must leave Berlin immediately: Hitler is beginning to round up Jews. He and his family eventually relocate to Turkey, where he is instrumental in bringing other displaced Jewish doctors and scientists to staff the new Istanbul University. He and his daughter begin the assimilation process by learning Turkish, while his wife and son continue to see themselves as German. This story of life in exile recounts how different people react t ...more
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Intriguing book spanning several generations of female narrators. The movement was somewhat slow, but I enjoyed immersing in a culture mostly unknown to me, that of Turkey and in particular German Jewish immigrants to Turkey. I think this book was one that was free from Kindle during World Book Week (or something like that) and I'm glad I took advantage of this opportunity. Some of the headlines of faraway political travails came to life through the lens of one family's life. I recommend it.
Rachel Abarca-Contreras
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing

I’ll be honest: I was intrigued, then bored, then interested, then bored, then bored again, then suddenly intrigued, heartbroken, sympathetic and empathetic. The journey through 4 generations of Jews from WWII to religious terrorist groups was poignant to say the least. The character development was completely between the lines, but as the story wound down, I realized how attached I’d become to the characters. This one will cause me a lot of thought for the next several days.
John Keeth
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I Couldn't Put This Book Down

I don't usually give a book 5 stars but this one deserves it. I'm not going to go into the plot. You can get that from the other reviews. This is a beautifully written historical novel that is well researched. There is not a dull page in it and I couldn't put it down. It gives a great insight into Turkish history since the 1930's. By all means don't let this one pass you by.
I openly admit defeat on this book, and I’ve given up half way through. It’s not a part of history I know much about and I was looking forward to learning more. However the characters are poorly developed to a point whereby as a reader you just don’t care about them. The story jumps a lot, just as you get into a certain part it halts abruptly and restarts a few years later.
Hence there just isn’t enough substance to hold my attention.
BookTrail postcard review:

I always read Ayse Kulin's books and this was a poignantly painful yet interesting read. I knew practically nothing of the role of Turkey in the 2WW and in the persecution of Jews so this was a real eye opener in many ways. Written in a very accessible and easy-flowing style.
Kathryn Gauci
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel resonates with what is taking place in many parts of the world today. Based on the true story of highly educated German Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, many were welcomed under Ataturk's education policy of trying to recruit the best minds to the new universaties, hospitals, and cutural intstitutions of the Republic. Many resettled in Turkey after the war yet the question of identy proves to be a difficult one, especially for the next generation. Are they first and foremost Jewish, do they ...more
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very well written

This book was very well written. It kept me wanting to continue to read it. Historical fiction seems to be my favorite genre, because I learn at the same time as I’m entertained. This book covered at least 4 generations of one family’s struggle with finding a country which would tolerate all nationalities, as their family blended with the people around them. The only reason it did not receive 5 stars was because, in my opinion, the author could have stopped before the last gene
Jonathan Donihue
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
An Interesting Trip Throu Time

This book wasn't exactly what I expected but it was an enjoyable read. The author presented an historical overview of a little less than a century in Turkey from the point of view of a particular family. As I commented to a friend of mine; it kind of reminded me of the Brady Bunch, but in the Middle East.
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Book with Anticipation

A book about tradegy, predjudice, injustice and heartbreak, but also one of love, forgiveness, endurance, and loyalty. A can't put down book. A lot of life's lessons learned.
Mike Collins
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was ok

This book is well-written and readable, but completely pointless. It starts with a story of one generation, then, seemingly, in few pages, advances to the fourth generation. The connections are loose. There’s no plot and barely a story, just words. I cannot believe I finished it. I kept waiting for some grand point to be made, but... nothing.
Nicole Patterson
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars for this book. I really enjoy books set in the 1930s. This one was a little different then I was expecting it to be. There was a lot of history about Turkey which was a little slow reading for me. But I liked all the generations that I got to read about. Was wishing for a little more at the end. Left it open ended which I didn't like all that much.
Jun 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
A disappointment

Fragmented and without a clear storyline, I struggled though this book thinking it would get better, but I was wrong.
Jun 28, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Eh. At page 68 I have officially lost interest. Neither the story nor the writing captured me.
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle-first, fiction
Sometimes I wonder if my history classes had spent more time on novels like this - fictionalized accounts of actual events - it all would have stuck better. I mean, obviously we'd need to learn the actual facts, too, but somehow I've discovered in the historical fiction I've read that it just "takes" better.

Anyhow - well translated (and I assume well written), for the most part the characters felt realistic. While it's technically about 4 generations of a family, it's primarily focused on the da
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it

This book is easy to read--credit the translation. (I can't judge the original Turkish, of course.) Although the book blurb describes it as a WWII book, that's only a part of the story.

I chose this as a Kindle Prime selection because the story of German Jewish intellectuals who emigrated to Turkey in the 1930s to save themselves from the Nazis looked interesting. And it was.

But while the writing flowed smoothly and the story was enjoyable, there was something about the plot-line that bugged me
Debbie Shoulders
This was a great idea for a story. In 1933 as Hitler was getting rid of intellectuals and Jews several professors found jobs in Turkey, a nation trying to wrestle its way out of the past. Kulin highlights one such family surrounding them with real individuals. The problem is that she allows Turkey and its politics to take center stage and is inconsistent with her characters. She allows the reader to get fully involved with pathologist Gerhard Schliemann and his wife Elsa but halfway into the boo ...more
Tripti The Scattered Plot Gawankar
Without a Country is a beautiful chronological journey through the tumultuous history of Turkey through the eyes of a fictitious Jewish Family that settled there after fleeing Nazi Germany.

Ayse Kulin paints a captivating picture of the various landscapes of Turkey both geographically and politically.

The book uses real historical events to tell stories of what people could've gone through on the ground while these events unraveled. It is based on true events but it is hard to distinguish between
Dec 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting story of four generations of German Jews who left Germany for Turkey to escape persecution. The book also relates the history of Turkey from the time of Kamal Ataturk’ drive to modernize Turkey and bring it into alignment with Europe up to 2016 when the country was going through the same populist movement that has led many countries to once again scapegoat Jews and other immigrants as the cause of their country’s problems. The books features many interesting characters - no two al ...more
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite sure what I thought about this book. Is it a book about how Turkey took In Jewish refugees from Germany during WWII or a book about how Jews tried to completely assimilate but never could in Turkey? This multi generational book never quite got under my skin as really good books do. It was more a history lesson, with people inserted. The story of their lives was just not that interesting. I gave it 3 stars because it wasn’t bad, but I’d give this 2 and 1/2 stars if that rating was avail ...more
Jun 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Historical fiction based on German Jewish scholars going to Turkey during the Nazi government. Follows one family over several generations and how the attitude toward the Jews changed (negatively) over the history of modern Turkey. Made me think again at how racism/sectarianism feels so very pervasive...why can't we get along?
Karla Carlson
Aug 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I was expecting so much more from this book. The characters were not well developed, and it seemed the author wanted to put too many historical events into just one book. I read it because I wanted to learn about Turkish history, but I'm not sure I did. Maybe something got lost in the translation.
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Play Book Tag: Without a Country by Ayşe Kulin - 3 stars 1 9 Feb 10, 2019 08:58PM  

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Ayşe Kulin is a Turkish contemporary novelist and columnist.
Kulin graduated in literature from the American College for Girls in Arnavutköy. She released a collection of short stories titled Güneşe Dön Yüzünü in 1984. A short story from this called Gülizar was made into a film titled Kırık Bebek in 1986, for which she won a screenplay award from the Turkish culture ministry. Kulin worked as a scre

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