What really fascinates in the Sabahattin Ali , until recently, forgotten novel “the Madonna in the fur coat” from 1943, is not necessarily the sore love in 1920s Berlin, which occupies the greater part of its storyline, but the frame story that leads there, where a completely different narrator for the word.

It is possible to read the passion with which affects this narrator for the story about the two lovers Raif and Maria, to whom he by chance much later to get access, as an image of art’s necessity in an oppressive social structure.

In a grey Ankara, he learns, a young writer in spe, knowing the aged and seemingly oansenlige Raif on a skogsmaskinsfirma where they become colleagues. Raif living a miserable life as a sickly family man. But something secretively over his person draws the young man to himself, and a friendship begins to take shape.

Love in Berlin

And what is it really that the anfrätte Raif to be ”more living” than any he had previously known? As the young man with diktardrömmar to seek out Raifs bedside in the chaotic home where he was living as a submissive and refined angel among skvallriga, badly dressed, and ungrateful family members?

You may believe that a certain degree of escapism in both of them leads to Raif to share his secret past with the free-spirited artist, Mary, who he as a young man during a stay in Berlin where he is sent in to learn of his father head over heels falls in love with.

In the affair they embark on is several for the modern love story familiar konfliktytor: liberation/convention, exile/hemhörighet, male/female, reality/appearance. Raif falls in love first and foremost not in Mary but in her self-portraits, in which she appears with ”unfathomable eyes” while wearing vildkattpäls, and that he of an event may saw in an art gallery.

Ataturk regime

There is, perhaps, especially for our own turbulent time, something deeply comforting in that the literature can move in completely different orbits than the present day, a thought Therese Bohman partially expressed in his fine foreword to the English edition.

a few years ago was Ali’s novel apparently up by the young Turkish writers as a political stance – Ali had during the Atatürk regime both are imprisoned as a dissident and murdered when he tried to flee the country. The book has continued to top the boklistorna in Turkey for several years. Most likely is spegeleffekten between Ali’s biography and today’s steadily worsening situation for the Turkish writer, one of the reasons for it.

But the “Madonna in fur coat” is also a novel that not only portrays an earthshaking love. But also what it is to be human in a kringskärande political system.



Madonna in fur

Translation: Mats Andersson

Albert Bonniers, 208 p.

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Hanna Nordenhök is a writer, translator and employees of the Swedish newspaper Expressen kultursida. Her latest novel is “the Aspens”.

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