Madonna in a Fur Coat

Sabahattin Ali, trans. from the Turkish by Maureen Freely and Alexander Dawe. Other Press, $15.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-59051-880-9
Appearances are not what they seem in Ali’s rich novel, first published in Turkey in 1943 and only now appearing in the U.S. A 25-year-old narrator introduces readers to his fellow Turkish clerical worker, Raif Efendi, a somewhat sickly milquetoast whose rich inner life is hinted at in an evocative sketch he draws of their co-worker. After seeing the artwork, the narrator and Efendi—who supports a household of unappreciative relatives on a meager translator’s salary—become close. A deeper story unfolds when Efendi allows the narrator to read a private notebook that documents his strange and wonderful relationship with Maria Puder, a mysterious artist he met in Berlin in 1923. Ali explores Maria and Efendi’s complex relationship through Maria’s thoughts on the metaphorical and physical boundaries of love, the expectations placed on men and women, the roles they take up or discard, and the choices people make when they are looking for a meaningful relationship. The narrator comes to understand that the outward appearance of Efendi’s life as numb and unsatisfying belies its unimaginable depths of feeling and vulnerability. This fascinating story veers in surprising and revealing directions. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/25/2017
Release date: 11/07/2017
Hardcover - 160 pages - 978-0-241-20619-5
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-241-29385-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-68168-603-5
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