When it comes to literary savvy these days, everyone is guilty of being, shall we say, a hair ignorante. But when the presenter of a media-related talk show on Turkish channel TV8, Funda Özkalyoncuoğlu, explained that the novel Madonna in a Fur Coat was about the pop star’s life, and would make a very interesting film adaptation, a new precedent was set for unenlightenment.
Gradually doubting herself, the TV personality was questioned by her fellow presenter, Sena Keçeli, of the book’s original release in 1943, adding daftly, “Was Madonna around back then?” And while, sure, people have no shortage of “old” jokes when it comes to Madonna, one would have to be slightly more on the brain dead side than the ageist side to believe that Sabahattin Ali’s classic work pertained in any way to the iconic chanteuse.
To further compound the slight toward Ali’s contribution to Turkish literature, it quickly became evident that Özkalyoncuoğlu didn’t read a word of the prose as she claimed that there were no quotes worth highlighting from the novel. While anyone with cultural cognizance is all too aware of the fact that Turkish TV is even worse than Italian TV, it still doesn’t excuse this level of shoddy journalism.
Moreover, considering it is one of the most important works in the canon of Turkish literature, Özkalyoncuoğlu should have been at least semi-familiar with the title and its plot–for fuck’s sake, it’s not like she’s of the millennial generation.
And yet, in a way, at least this public snafu has led to this much shaming in the media–otherwise the translation of the book into English for the first time might never have gotten so much attention. One supposes spreading knowledge of international literature is just another on the endless list of Madonna’s humanitarian acts.