Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ah But Your Land Is Beautiful” as Want to Read:
Ah But Your Land Is Beautiful
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ah But Your Land Is Beautiful

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  371 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Ah, But Your Land is Beautiful is set in the 1950s, the time of the Passive Resistance campaign, the Sophiatown removals, the emergence of the South African Liberal Party and the early stages of the Nationalist government in power. Revolving around the everyday experiences of a group of men and women whose lives reflect the human costs of maintaining a racially divided soc ...more
Published August 1st 2002 by Vintage (first published 1981)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ah But Your Land Is Beautiful, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Ah But Your Land Is Beautiful

Blood River by Tim ButcherThings Fall Apart by Chinua AchebeThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara KingsolverHalf of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieChasing the Devil by Tim Butcher
1,290 books — 1,326 voters
Disgrace by J.M. CoetzeeDreams Come True by Bridgitte LesleyLong Walk to Freedom by Nelson MandelaCry, the Beloved Country by Alan PatonMy Traitor's Heart by Rian Malan
Best South African reads
190 books — 130 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details

This book is written in a kaleidoscopic, post modernist style whereby the story is told by various accounts that rotate around the events. It is told by different voices in a variety of formats; dialogues, private letters, press releases, newspaper reports and so on, where some characters were real life people and others are entirely fictional. Likewise, some events are historically accurate whilst others are not. It's a slightly challenging format that requires some attention in order to see th
Jennifer Wood
Feb 20, 2017 Jennifer Wood rated it it was amazing
I'm glad I read some of Paton's other novels - Too Late the Phalarope and Cry, the Beloved Country - before this, as this novel is less of a linear narrative (more like a collage of letters and loosely connected political/personal events) and speaks more intellectually of the politics of apartheid than those two others. I highly recommend this book, though, to those who would like to understand a little better the political and cultural climate of apartheid South Africa.

My favorite part of Paton
Sep 06, 2007 Cindy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: fiction, 20th-century
A brilliant book by the writer of 'Cry, the Beloved Country.' This one is told from varying viewpoints, sometimes as letters, sometimes as conversation, sometimes as newspaper reports, and from all sorts of narrator. There's the "Proud Christian Woman" who writes nasty letters to anyone she disapproves of. There's the Afrikaner civil servant who stick to the party line as long as possible. There's the Indian family whose daughter is making a stand against discrimination which will certainly end ...more
Apr 12, 2012 Maria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It took me a really long time to finish this book. Parts of it were dry like a history book, and lacking the background that a history book would provide. So there were some pages I read without understanding a thing.

Then why did I bother finishing it? Well, I actually learned a lot about apartheid and South Africa. I read "Cry, the Beloved Country" in high school, so either I've forgotten what I learned then or 20 years of life experience have changed how I interpret what I learned. In any case
Oct 27, 2011 Fergie rated it liked it
Alan Paton (as Ursula Hegi is in the present day) was a master of historical fiction. He wrote with a depth and honest truth that is worthy of our attention. With the same adept skills he used in his other novels, Paton teaches us about his South Africa...beautiful and flawed, real and intriguing. With a forthrightness to be admired, the courage in which he educates us through the words and actions of his characters is both appealing and compelling.
Paton reminds us that human nature, at its co
Mar 03, 2012 Albert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The cost of oppression, the tyranny of the mighty few, and the war cries of the oppressed majority: These are things that try our souls, and each of these shines true in this book. Even though it speaks of a time that has passed, even if the nation that survived those tumultuous times moves forwards towards the future, this book contains the stories and agonies of human lives, and that agony, that torment, those tortures ring true today.

The novel may 'bounce around' with a (in this reviewer's i
Sean de la Rosa
Apr 15, 2011 Sean de la Rosa rated it it was ok
Paton's gracing words and style fill the pages of this book. It is a good reminder of how South Africa was in the 1950's. Maybe that is also its biggest criticism: it felt more like a history book than a work of fiction. There were a couple of intimate chapters where the problems of the characters take on real meaning and importance for the reader - Paton should have focused on this much more I think.
Jan 06, 2014 Abrya rated it it was amazing
This novel was a very Well written novel. Each person was bought to life and vividly described. Although there where many characters presented which made the novel hard to keep up with, I enjoyed reading it. There was a tone about the book that kept me reading and enjoying every bit of it. It really inspires the reader to go for What he/ she believes like he did in the novel. You can't win I'd you don't fight seems to be the overall message that Alan Paying tried to convey.
Will Corvin
Sep 24, 2015 Will Corvin rated it it was amazing
Beautiful prose, as always from Paton. He does an incredible job of juxtaposing the overwhelming determination of freedom fighters, the slow ascent toward humanity of some white South Africans, and the tenacious depravity of other whites. A great book that really makes one get a better sense of what it must have been like to live in 1950s South Africa from all angles.
Aug 13, 2007 Kimberly rated it really liked it
I'm disappointed to see that not too many people have read Alan Paton, because I have enjoyed now this book and "Cry the Beloved Country," and both give such insight into South Africa, its people, and race relations.
Mar 14, 2008 Bonnie marked it as will-finish-some-day
I think I liked this book more for its name. I did like it but must finish if only because I owed the library my first born child over how late this book was by the time I returned it and NEVER finished reading it. Ugh!
Derek Baldwin
Jul 28, 2011 Derek Baldwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ironically titled after the tourist's eternal saying when confronted with a country that's rotten to the core, but scenic. Not fantastically well written in some ways, but I'd rate it highly purely out of admiration for Alan Paton.
Jul 11, 2015 Marilyn rated it really liked it
Excellent story and content about the beginning of apartheid. The only negative for me was that there were so many names and places that I had a hard time keeping everyone straight, and it was sometimes difficult to know who was speaking due to Paton's style of writing.
Dec 02, 2010 Tfischbach rated it really liked it
A really good book.... I feel like I understand the issue of apartheid in south africa much better, but its hard to say i really enjoyed it because of the terrible things that happen... certainly not a light read, but i feel like a better person for having read it.
Feb 21, 2011 Maryn rated it really liked it
really, really good. so good. and terrifying, in terms of repressive regimes and the ways they develop rhetoric. and racial righteousness. for anyone interested in apartheid, south africa, or disciplinary regimes.
Fred Daly
Apr 12, 2010 Fred Daly rated it it was ok
Disappointing, though interesting. It's set in the 1950s, in the early days of apartheid, and I think it is useful for its documentation of the effects of the new policies. But it's far more earnest than good.
Feb 21, 2010 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical....1950s South Africa....Politics of racial separation, from many points of view.
Jan 14, 2012 Helen rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011
Too much like a history book for my liking, didn't finish it.
lola Franco
Dec 20, 2013 lola Franco rated it really liked it
i did not love this as much as cry the beloved country -- but still a worthwhile read.
Jul 26, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it
I have this to say: Read this book.
Mar 17, 2008 Renae rated it really liked it
This is a powerful book about the beginning/emerging of apartheid in South Africa. It takes various viewpoints of people on both sides of the issue. Read it
Mari Olsen
Jun 29, 2012 Mari Olsen rated it really liked it
The beginning of my love affair with South Africa...
Aimee Faour
Mar 19, 2014 Aimee Faour rated it did not like it
Didn't finish it! Boring!
May 21, 2013 Tracy rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
Was a good book, but way to many characters to try to follow. Also hard to follow all the geographical info as I do not know a lot about South Africa.
Apr 02, 2008 Mehrsa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written description of apartheid south Africa.
Jul 31, 2011 Lyn rated it liked it
Fascinating. Before I read this really had no idea about South Africa, but this is a very detailed, yet also very readable and entertaining story. Compelling and thought provoking.
Irene rated it liked it
Oct 13, 2013
Dustin rated it it was ok
Jan 08, 2010
Megs rated it really liked it
Nov 01, 2008
Matthew Dougan
Matthew Dougan rated it liked it
Feb 27, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town
  • To My Children's Children
  • Gem Squash Tokoloshe
  • A change of tongue
  • Triomf
  • Red Dust
  • A Dry White Season
  • Karoo Boy
  • My Traitor's Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe, and His Conscience
  • The Mirror at Midnight: A South African Journey
  • AMA
  • Ancestral Voices
  • Pieternella van die Kaap
  • The Lying Days
  • God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time
  • Tropical Gangsters: One Man's Experience with Development and Decadence in Deepest Africa
  • The Shackled Continent: Africa's Past, Present and Future. Robert Guest
  • The Good Doctor
Alan Stewart Paton was born and educated in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. He started his career by teaching at a school in Ixopo where he met and married his first wife. The dramatic career change to director of a reformatory for black youths at Diepkloof, near Johannesburg, had a profound effect on his thinking. The publication of Cry, The Beloved Country (1948) made him one of South Africa's ...more
More about Alan Paton...

Share This Book