Sabahattin Ali

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Sabahattin Ali
Sabahattin Ali
Sabahattin Ali
Born(1907-02-25)February 25, 1907
Eğridere, Gümülcine, Ottoman Empire
Died2 April 1948(1948-04-02) (aged 41)
Kırklareli, Turkey
OccupationAuthor, poet, journalist
Literary movementRealism, social realism
Aliye Ali
(m. 1935)
ChildrenFiliz Ali


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

Early life[edit]

Sabahattin Ali's sister Saniye Süheyla Conkman (1922–2017)

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. His father was an Ottoman officer, Selahattin Ali, and his mother Husniye. His father's family was from Of in Black Sea region. He lived in Istanbul, Çanakkale and Edremit before he entered the Teacher School in Balıkesir. His elementary and middle school education was interrupted by WWI and had a very difficult childhood. Then he was transferred from Balikesir to the School of Education in Istanbul, where he graduated in 1926 with teacher's certificate. His various poems and short stories were published in school student paper. After serving as a teacher in Yozgat for one year, he earned a fellowship from the Ministry of National Education and studied in Potsdam, Germany from 1928 to 1930. When he returned to Turkey, he taught German language in high schools at Aydın and Konya.

Later years[edit]

While he was serving as a teacher in Konya, he was arrested for a poem he wrote criticizing Atatürk's policies, and accused of libelling two other journalists. Having served his sentence for several months in Konya and then in the Sinop Fortress Prison, he was released in 1933 in an amnesty granted to mark the 10th anniversary of the declaration of the Republic of Turkey. He then applied to the Ministry of National Education for permission to teach again. After proving his allegiance to Atatürk by writing the poem "Benim Aşkım" (literally: My Love or My Passion), he was assigned to the publications division at the Ministry of National Education. Sabahattin Ali married Aliye on May 16, 1935 and had a daughter, Filiz. He did his military service in 1936. He was called back to military service twice during WWII, like most Turkish adult males at the time. He was imprisoned again and released in 1944. He also owned and edited a popular weekly newspaper called "Marko Paşa" (pronounced "Marco Pasha"), together with Aziz Nesin.[1]


Bust of Sabahattin Ali in his birthplace at Ardino, Kardzhali Province, Bulgaria.

Upon his release from prison, he suffered financial troubles. His application for a passport was denied. He was killed at the Bulgarian border, probably on 1 or 2 April 1948. His body was found on June 16, 1948. It is generally believed that he was killed by Ali Ertekin, a smuggler with connections to the National Security Service, who had been paid to help him pass the border.[2] Another hypothesis is that Ertekin handed him over to the security services, and he was killed during interrogation.

Sabahattin Ali's 100th birth anniversary was celebrated in Bulgarian city Ardino on March 31, 2007. Ali is a well-known author in this country because his books have been read in schools in Bulgaria since the 1950s.


His short novel "Madonna in A Fur Coat" (1943) is considered one of the best novellas in Turkish literature. Its translations have recently hit the best sellers lists and has sold record number of copies in his country of birth.[3] It first appeared on the pages of daily Hakikat, 1941–42, in 48 instalments. With this novel, Sabahattin Ali became one of the two Turkish novelists whose works made it to the Penguin Classics [2]. Other being Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar's "The Time Regulation Institute" [3]


Short stories[edit]

  • "Değirmen" (1935) (Mill)
  • "Kağnı" (1936) (Oxcart)
  • "Ses" (1937) (Voice)
  • "Yeni Dünya" (1943) (New World)
  • "Sırça Köşk" (1947) (The Glass Palace)


  • Esirler (1936) (Prisoners)


  • Kuyucaklı Yusuf (1937) (Yusuf of Kuyucak). Kuyucakli Yusuf was made into a movie by Turkish national television[citation needed].
  • İçimizdeki Şeytan (1940) (Devil Inside)
  • Kürk Mantolu Madonna (1943). (Madonna in a Fur Coat)


  • Tarihte Garip Vakalar (Strange Cases in History): Ankara, 1936
  • Antigone, Sophokles: Istanbul, 1941
  • Üç Romantik Hikaye (Three Romantic Story): Ankara, 1943
  • Fontamara, İgnazio Silone: Ankara, 1943
  • Gyges ve Yüzüğü (En. Gyges and Ring, Deutch: Gyges und sein Ring Rings), Christian F. Hebbel: Ankara, 1944[4]

In 2016 Madonna in a Fur Coat translated by Maureen Freely and Alexander Dawe: Penguin, London.[5]


  • Dağlar ve Rüzgâr (1934 - Second Edition 1943). (Mountains and Wind)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Profile of Sabahattin Ali on Canal Turkey". Retrieved 3 October 2017.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ Arango, Tim (26 February 2017). "A Once-Forgotten Novel Unites Turkish Readers in Troubled Times". Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Sabahattin Ali" (PDF). Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali". Retrieved 3 October 2017.

External links[edit]