Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

81%

12 Critic Reviews

From the fierce love of Kumalo to the persuasive rhetoric of Kumalo's brother and the solemn regret of Absalom, York injects soul into characters tempered by their socioeconomic status as black South Africans.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

An Oprah Book Club selection, Cry, the Beloved Country, the most famous and important novel in South Africa’s history, was an immediate worldwide bestseller in 1948. Alan Paton’s impassioned novel about a black man’s country under white man’s law is a work of searing beauty.

Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.

The eminent literary critic Lewis Gannett wrote, “We have had many novels from statesmen and reformers, almost all bad; many novels from poets, almost all thin. In Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country the statesman, the poet and the novelist meet in a unique harmony.”

Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.
 

About Alan Paton

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Alan Paton, a native son of South Africa, was born in Pietermaritzburg, in the province of Natal, in 1903. While his mother was a third-generation South African, his father was a Scots Presbyterian who arrived in South Africa just before the Boer War.Alan Paton attended college in Pietermaritzburg where he studied science and wrote poetry in his off-hours. After graduating, he wrote two novels and then promptly destroyed them. He devoted himself to writing poetry once again, and later, in his middle years, he wrote serious essays for liberal South African magazines, much the same way his character, Arthur Jarvis, does in Cry, the Beloved Country.Paton's initial career was spent teaching in schools for the sons of rich, white South Africans, But at thirty, when he was teaching in Pietermaritzburg, he suffered a severe attack of enteric fever, and in the time he had to reflect upon his life, he decided that he did not want to spend his life teaching the sons of the rich. Paton was a great admirer of Hofmeyr, a man who dared to tell his fellow Afrikaners that they must give up "thinking with the blood," and "maintain the essential value of human personality as something independent of race or color." Paton wrote to Hofmeyr and asked him for a job. To his surprise, he was offered a job as principal of Diepkloof Reformatory, a huge prison school for delinquent black boys, on the edge of Johannesburg. It was a penitentiary, with barbed wire and barred cells, and under Hofmeyr's inspiring leadership, Paton transformed it. Geraniums replaced the barbed wire, the bars were torn down, and soon the feeling in the place changed. He worked at Diepkloof for ten years, and though it was certainly a fertile period, at the end of it Paton felt so strongly that he needed a change, that he sold his life insurance policies to finance a prison-study trip that took him to Scandinavia, England, and the United States. It was during this time that he unexpectedly wrote his first published novel, Cry, the Beloved Country. It was in Norway that he began it, after a friendly stranger had taken him to see the rose window in the cathedral of Trondheim by torchlight, Paton, no doubt inspired, sat down in his hotel room and wrote the whole first chapter. He had no idea what the rest of the story would be, but it formed itself while he traveled. Parts were written in Stockholm, Trondheim, Oslo, London, and the United States. It was finished in San Francisco. Cry, the Beloved Country was first published in 1948 by Charles Scribner's Sons. It stands as the single most important novel in South African literature. Alan Paton died in 1988 in South Africa.
 
Published November 25, 2003 by Scribner. 320 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Children's Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Humor & Entertainment, Biographies & Memoirs, Travel. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Cry, the Beloved Country
All: 12 | Positive: 12 | Negative: 0

Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Jun 30 2008

From the fierce love of Kumalo to the persuasive rhetoric of Kumalo's brother and the solemn regret of Absalom, York injects soul into characters tempered by their socioeconomic status as black South Africans.

Read Full Review of Cry, the Beloved Country | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Scholars And Rogues

Excellent
on Jul 17 2007

Before Apartheid. Before legalised hate. Before it was too late. It is the most beautiful book ever written. And the people who needed to read it most never did...“Cry” is a great work. Not for what it says, but for the intimacy of the interactions between the characters.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by George D. on Sep 28 2014

Overall, I would give this novel four and a half stars out of five. It was a very interesting and well written book, and I highly recommend it. I would recommend this book for anybody from high school and above.

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http://www.bookdrum.com

Good
on Sep 28 2014

The book is a heartfelt call to shake off apathy and recognise that one group cannot prosper on the back of another’s suffering, except under conditions of perpetual fear and violence accompanied by the destruction of hope and beauty. It is also a promise of mercy, forgiveness and redemption for those brave enough to walk a different path.

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http://www.bookdrum.com

Good
on Sep 28 2014

A beautifully crafted commentary on the futility of racial discrimination as a means to protect privilege, the novel did much to raise international awareness of the plight of black South Africans.

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Lit Lovers

Good
Reviewed by Molly Lundquist on Sep 28 2014

Thematically rich, the book focuses not only on political oppression, but also on tribal breakdown, moral decay as a result of urbanization, and the degradation of the land.

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Reading for Sanity

Above average
Reviewed by Kari on Nov 01 2009

This book had many great themes about redemption, hate/love, sin, history, race, language, learning, to name a few...What I couldn't get past was the punctuation--or the lack thereof. Dialogue punctuation is too important not to use...at all. For me that really took away from the book.

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Vulpus Libris

Above average
Reviewed by Caoimhe McCutcheon on May 06 2009

Cry, the Beloved Country is a book that is extremely relevant for today- and probably too relevant. The poverty described in 1948 is too similar to that I see today.

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http://www.reviewstream.com

Above average
on Sep 28 2014

I’ll recommend this book to people who sees details as the part of literature art, and also enjoys poetry, because there is a certain poetic flow to the words.

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http://www.ciao.co.uk

Good
Reviewed by LukeyBoy on Oct 02 2006

I think this because it was interpreted well in all emotions and the general picture is what I think that Alan Paton had put forward. A good book and film, however touching in parts.

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http://mostlyfiction.com

Good
Reviewed by Wenkai Tay on Jan 11 2004

Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country remains relevant for modern readers, given the parallels between South Africa in the 1940s and the world today. Fear of terrorist attacks have gripped the globe, as the war against terror wages on.

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http://bookreviews.nabou.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Shazi Ali on Sep 28 2014

This novel is so rich, so adept in describing the sorrow of mankind, the frustration, the incredible sadness of life in a torn world, that it will draw you in, capture you in a way you never believed possible, in a way you will remember long after you turn the last page.

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Reader Rating for Cry, the Beloved Country
83%

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