Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mine Boy” as Want to Read:
Mine Boy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mine Boy

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  503 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
First published in 1946, this novel exposed the condition of black South Africans under a white regime. It presents a portrait of labour discrimination, appalling housing conditions and one man's humanitarian act of defiance.
Paperback, 184 pages
Published September 18th 2008 by Pearson (first published January 1st 1976)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

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

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jerome Kuseh
May 23, 2015 Jerome Kuseh rated it really liked it
Shelves: african
I first read this book as a child and I re-read it last year. The book shows the way black South Africans lived in the predominantly black parts of the cities in the 1940s.

Under the oppressive cloud of apartheid, the rich urban culture of black people is explored in the book. Particularly the clash between the rural communism, represented by Xuma (the protagonist), and the urban individualism that black people had to adopt to survive the discrimination. Through Eliza, the love interest of Xuma,
Mar 31, 2012 Rick rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Mine Boy was published in 1946 and is a seminal work of African fiction. While apartheid didn’t become official law of the land until 1948, Abrahams describes the brutalizing social and economic separatism that was already in effect. It chills as you read to know that the injustice will only get worse and endure for another half century. Written by a twenty-seven year old black South African who later emigrated to Jamaica, Mine Boy tells the story of a young man’s coming of age in Malay Camp, a ...more
نسيبة  حمد
Oct 21, 2015 نسيبة حمد rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
عن تجربة زوما القادم من الشمال في المدينة ، ويبدو انه اول احتكاك له بالناس البيض ، يعمل في المنجم رئيساً للعمال وقد اكتسب حب عماله واحترام رئيسه الأبيض ، وخلال هذه التجربة يبدأ زوما بالتحول من رجل
أسود الى انسان حر..
الرواية خفيفة وممتعة وكثيرة التفاصيل .
Mar 29, 2008 Brad rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Mine Boy was the first black South African novel ever written. It gives the reader an in-depth view of what life was like during the height of the gold-mining era in South Africa, how blacks were treated during this time, and overall, what it was like to be black during this time. The main character, Xuma, struggles with many things during this novel, but his overall struggle is with his somewhat apathetic attitude towards the way things are. And I think this is what Abrahams tries to do through ...more
Benj FitzPatrick
Feb 11, 2011 Benj FitzPatrick rated it really liked it
I'd give this one 4.5 stars if I could. It's an accessible narrative of a working-class south african man discovering his needs and his place in society (namely that his place in society should not be dictated by his race). While similar in content to "The Life and Times of Michael K" or "Master Harold and the Boys," it tells the story sans the obnoxious whining and preaching (especially of the former).
Nov 12, 2016 Suraj rated it really liked it
a good read
Sep 18, 2014 Carly rated it really liked it
Very good piece of literature of South Africa and describing apartheid. (Junior year world history)
Steve Mayberry
Dec 12, 2016 Steve Mayberry rated it liked it
Three stars for historical importance, but I found this artistically flat and philosophically stale. Artistically: lots of online reviewers compare Abrahams to Hemingway, but that is a superficial comparison. Abrahams does use a very straightforward style, but for very different purposes and to different ends than Hemingway. Philosophy: "the future will be color-blind!" conclusion is sudden, unsupported, and unconvincing. And given that in this century, the only people who still say things like ...more
Nov 29, 2014 Kogiopsis rated it really liked it
This was the second of four books assigned for my African Lit class, and honestly, it wasn't at all what I'd expected. As a white American, the stories I've absorbed about apartheid focused on injustice and racialized oppression, and don't get me wrong: those are major factors in this book. However, Mine Boy wasn't just about suffering; it was, in the main, about overcoming and the endurance of humanity and community. The bulk of the story takes place within the black township of Vrededorp and f ...more
Feb 06, 2011 Mpho3 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Mine Boy is an unsung gem, amazing and much more potent than Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country . In fact, the two do not necessarily warrant comparison except for the fact that of the two, Paton's book is one of the few classic South African novels that one might encounter in U.S. high schools and undergrad. Some readers have complained of the simplicity of Abraham's language or "cardboard" characters. For me, it's that very simplicity that makes the story such a dramatic tale; it's language ...more
Sep 27, 2011 Bob rated it really liked it
Written very much in the Hemingway-esque plain style - dialog predominates, knitted together with short, almost disjoint sentences; plus the all-purpose understated adjective "good" ("it was...", "she was..."). A rural black South African comes down to Johannesburg in the mid 1940s to work in the mines and we are treated to a picture of township life, with details of its social class structure and the quotable phrase "Skokiaan Queens" to describe female operators of shebeens (itself a wonderful ...more
Feb 29, 2016 Wanderer rated it it was amazing
Probably the first book I read seriously. Peter Abrahams gave me an insight into a culture hitherto unknown. I was spell bound. I admired the characters even where I did not love them and through their eyes I experienced a myriad of emotions. It began my passion for books which addressed racial issues and historical acts that heavily impacted on society and cultural norms. Looking forward to reading this book again.
Paul Lothane
Sep 10, 2015 Paul Lothane rated it it was amazing
A charming, early novel by Peter Abrahams, "conscientizing" the world about (erstwhile) discrimination in South Africa, and its ravages on society, blacks in particular. The protagonist, Xuma, grows in stature as this work unfolds. The series of unfortunate events (tragedies) that besieges him and those he loves (in Malay Camp) is devastating. Why couldn't human beings just be that - human, kindly, regardless of colour? A haunting, powerful work.
Jonathan Nthuseni
This book i read it on 2007 when i was doing matric at Tshivhase high School, On that time i was not having a picture of how joburg it was during apartheid but this book Mine Boy it makes me to have pictures about how life it was on that.Now i hv 5 years when i passed matric i dont know were i could find this book again. I realy loves this book more than my girl friend wish if i can get it again.

Peter Abrahams
Jan 05, 2015 Daniela rated it liked it
Shelves: history, 2008, sold
Although the book is written in short sentences it somehow lacks on readability. But it is just maybe it was my first book from an African writer and I just have to get accustomed to the style. The story itself was good and the last few chapters even very good, when Xuma started to think about a world without colors and behave like a man.
Sydney Mugerwa
Aug 14, 2015 Sydney Mugerwa rated it really liked it
Back in Lit class, this was one of the books we covered indepth on the syllabus. Though it has been a number of years since last I read it, the plot and twists are fresh in my mind. The decadence in apartheid South Africa is so well depicted in Mine Boy, I swear I could rip it out the page and sniff it. Among the stars of African Literature, Peter Abraham and Mine Boy shine bright
Matt Gunther
Not bad! Simple prose, solid commentary. The "lesson" may feel a little rushed at the end, but I think this is by design. I would certainly recommend this book for a Black Lit class or a unit dealing with apartheid. It only took me about 4 hours to read, and yet it generates the same sort of debates as something like a WEB Du Bois or Frantz Fanon piece would.
Jan 29, 2016 Jebet rated it it was amazing
We had this book as a set piece during high school and can still recall Xuma from the north almost 20 years later. The characters have a way of being present to date.. Leah, srong in body and character..Eliza fragile, beautiful and lost....Maisy, poor Maisy..Dladla, Daddy, Johannes....... Beautiful book and worth reading.
Jul 12, 2011 James rated it really liked it
Great fictional story about the rigors of living and working as a young black South African in the mines under apartheid rule. Characters are very memorable such as Patty the Red, Xuma, Leah, Maisy and Joseph. Story is short as well.
Bob Young
Nov 28, 2013 Bob Young rated it really liked it
What a fantastic book...picked it up second hand at Chaham Booksellers...the black experience around Johannesberg in the first half of the 20th century...a small novel packed with thought and feeling...4.5 stars if I could...
Jul 21, 2007 Chase rated it really liked it
Strangely I had never heard of this book until a Kenyan friend recommended it last year. I don't know how Peter Abrahams does it (and I'm not an authority to say), but I think he really "gets" a black South African mine worker.
Oct 20, 2012 Wporter rated it really liked it
Just happened to pick this off of a book cart in the hospital, and I'm glad I did. Despite what happens to Xuma, I never felt sorry for him. He was in tune with who he was and followed his passion. We learned as Xuma learned his new environment. I liked it a lot.
Ikoyi Adukwu
Peter Abraham's Mine Boy gave me an insight into what the blacks went through in those days. The main character Xuma depicts the suffering and humiliation of the blacks in the hands of the whites. Thank God for Nelson Mandela.
Ntwanano Nkuna
The novels focuses on the apartheid era, it shows how blacks were supressed by whites. What I enjoyed most about the book was that it showed how family plays an imperative role in our lives, whatever you do where it be wrong or right your family will always stand by you.

Rating: 3/5
Levi Cheruo
Apr 20, 2016 Levi Cheruo rated it really liked it
I never knew what Southern African (Rhodesia, or Modern Day Zimbabweans) used to go through in the Gold mines in Johannesburg until I first read Peter Abraham's Mine Boy...that Black South Africans continue perishing to date in the very mines described in the 1940s, is really heart-wrenching!
Dec 03, 2012 Anzi rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 30, 2015 Mercy rated it really liked it
A wonderful read. Even the poor miners with the bad living conditions have dreams. They too love laugh and dance through life.
Mar 25, 2008 Christina rated it really liked it
Different from anything else I've read. I don't like that the revelations come from the main character's conversations with a white man, but otherwise pretty cool.
Feb 08, 2013 Kizito rated it really liked it
Back then, I used to have associated images for every character in this book. That is due to the emotional building ip that Abrahams brings. That was 15 years ago
Nov 28, 2012 Marc rated it really liked it
A lovely story of township life in South Africa. Richly delineated and very likeable characters.
« 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 »
  • In the Fog of the Seasons' End
  • Harvest of Thorns
  • The Poor Christ of Bomba
  • The Concubine
  • Efuru
  • Houseboy
  • The Collector of Treasures and Other Botswana Village Tales
  • The Beggars' Strike (Longman African Writers Series)
  • God's Bits of Wood
  • Two Thousand Seasons
  • Song of Lawino & Song of Ocol
  • Ambiguous Adventure
  • Distant View of a Minaret and Other Stories
  • Mayombe
  • Arrows of Rain
  • Changes: A Love Story
  • Weep Not, Child
  • AMA
Peter Abrahams was a South African-born Jamaican novelist, journalist and political commentator.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
More about Peter Abrahams...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »