Cry, The Beloved Country
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Cry, The Beloved Country

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  38,574 ratings  ·  2,390 reviews
Cry, the Beloved Country stands as a singularly important novel in twentieth-century South African literature. A work of searing beauty, Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom, set against the background of South Africa and a people driven by racial injustice. Unforgettable for character and incident, it is...more
Paperback, Oprah's Book Club, 320 pages
Published September 29th 2003 by Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group (first published January 1st 1940)
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John Wiswell
May 02, 2008 John Wiswell rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: African issues readers, historical readers, modern classics readers, humanitarian readers
This isn't an infinitely quotable book, but occasionally it produces a line that is devastatingly clear and true. Lines like, "It was not his habit to dwell on what could have been, but what could never be." and, “It is the duty of a judge to do justice, but it is only the people who can be just.” made me put the book down and stare dumbfounded at the wall. But mostly this isn't a highly quotable book; it's a beautifully written, riveting book where passages or entire halves of scenes are compel...more
Marcia Case
Just when I thought I had a handle on this book, it got really complicated. After getting over the shock of how much South African history and turmoil were skimmed over or ignored completely in my history classes, I felt like this story outlined a pretty clear cut good guy vs an obvious bad guy. My initial thoughts were that the natives were a perfectly content group of people who were just fine on their own until the Europeans stepped in and muddled up their entire culture. I thought Johannesbu...more
brook
I cant say enough about this book. It is lyrically written, reads almost like an epic out of Ireland. The dialog between characters is straightforward, and the book manages to give you a glimpse of Apartheid S. Africa, from the richest people, to the poor urban laborers, to the criminals, to the peaceful rural farmers trying to maintain their land after many years of neglect. This is a classic that I have read probably 3 or 4 times.

My copy is beat to hell, but readable.
Kat
I am a teacher and, after 34 years, attempt to find new combinations in the catalogue of "must reads." I have done this as a staple for years. Last year, when deciding what I wanted to do - kind of like window shopping for lovely clothes -- I decided to read this book after reading Hamlet. I love the mirrored plot structure. I adore the fact that the land is a character. The moral imperative and subsequent hemming and hawing in Hamlet takes on a different light and life in the beautifully wrough...more
Denise
This book is one of those classics that I'm glad I read, but will probably never read again. The themes are important (racial equality, morality, forgiveness) and the writing is lyrical, but it's still hard to read. Alan Paton doesn't use any quotation marks. He chooses, instead, to preface each line of dialogue with a dash. I could get used to this technique, if he were consistent with it, but he's not. Sometimes the dialogue is in the middle of a paragraph, with no indication it's spoken aloud...more
Beth
I was supposed to read Cry, the Beloved Country my senior year of high school. But you know how senior year is. Well, I wasn’t like that — promise. I wasn’t one who started slacking because I had my acceptance letter to college in hand. But I did decide that I didn’t really care for English, and that I found my European History class much more fascinating, and thus I spent all my study time pouring over my history textbook instead of my English novels (especially since the in-class discussions w...more
Chrissie
Beautiful writing, that is why this book gets four stars. But what do I mean by beautiful writing? That can mean so much. Here every sentence is simple. Every thought is simple. It is writing where all words that can be removed are removed. What remains is clear and concise and beautiful. The core is left, and that core says exactly what has to be said.

The book is about Africa, South Africa in particular and racial injustice in this country. It is about right and wrong and men's strengths and we...more
Gwendolyn
After hearing of Bryson's call to South Africa, it made me remember this book I read years ago. It is a fantastic book that opens your eyes to the cultural and political challenges in South Africa. Since I read it so long ago, the following is an "official" review:


"Cry, the Beloved Country is a monument to the future. One of South Africa's leading humanists, Alan Paton vividly captured his eloquent faith in the essential goodness of people." — Nelson Mandela*

The book is Alan Paton's ode to his...more
Elisabeth
Jul 24, 2009 Elisabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elisabeth by: Maria
This was a deeply moving book that will stay with me for a long time. It falls into the elite category on my bookshelf of "I will read this again and again". I loved Paton's writing style...short, concise sentences and the dialogue written without quotation marks (as well as the social themes in the book) made this very reminiscent of another of my all-time favorites, The Grapes of Wrath. The book looks at themes of equality and social justice in pre-apartheid South Africa from both sides of the...more
Kelly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tammra
I love this book. It is one of my all-time favorites. The author had the beautiful ability to write about the tragedies in South Africa and at the same time interweave a deeply moving story of two fathers having the worst experience of their lives. The gripping sadness of the experience is overshadowed by the love and faith of a father who is just trying to do the right thing. Alan Paton's prose and insight make for an awesome reading experience. I highly recommend this book not only for reading...more
Renee
"Cry, the Beloved Country is a beautifully told and profoundly compassionate story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom, set in the troubled and changing South Africa of the 1940s. The book is written with such keen empathy and understanding that to read it is to share fully in the gravity of the characters' situations. It both touches your heart deeply and inspires a renewed faith in the dignity of mankind. Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic tale, passionately African, timel...more
Clare Cannon
If I could give this 6 stars I would... a magnificent, moving story with extraordinary depth and wisdom.
Mohammed
إبك, إيها البلد الحبيب, بقلم آلان باتون

المكان: جنوب أفريقيا, المشاكل: الأرض البوار, إختلال المجتمع القبلي-المدني, وكذلك الفصل العنصري, طبعا, أليست جنوب أفريقيا؟ أما الشخصية الرئيسية فهو رجل كنيسة, يتأمل, ويتألم, ويكابد لإنقاذ مايمكن إنقاذه.

تتحدث الرواية عن القسيس الذي يزور جوهانسبرج, بحثا عن أخته وابنه اللذيّن التقمتهم المدينة المفترسة, فيدخل في دوامة خطرة. نبرة الراوي محايدة, ترمي إلى التحليل بدلاً عن التجريح. كما يتضمن النص فرضيات عن مسببات تفاقم جرائم السكان الأصليين, و يسلط الضوء على معاناة...more
Alana
It's hard to really write a description of this book. Yes, there is plot and structure and story, but the book isn't really about that. It is a book about love and grief and hope and despair. It's about fathers love for their children, despite their choices, about love for one's country and homeland, even when its structure is not ideal or right. It's about how wrong and right choices both effect not only ourselves but those around us with far-reaching ripples. It's about poetry and beauty even...more
Rihab
This book is simply amazing...

the characters are so real and human, they do mistakes, they hate, they love and they simply live as I imagine people lived back then in Afrika.

The main idea of this book is one discussed before in so many movies and books but what makes this book special is that the writer created the whole scene for the reader. It was so easy to penetrate throughout these pages to South Africa. It was a very smooth trip considering the fact that I'm coming from a different cultur...more
Stefan Yates
Cry, the Beloved Country is a wonderfully written and powerful novel that takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride of emotion. From the depths of despair, Paton shows his readers a nugget of hope. From utter desolation, Paton gives us a measure of courage. His story is utterly devastating and demoralizing, yet his beautiful language and vision lead the reader to end up feeling energized and encouraged.

Overall, I was shocked by the power of this novel and while it's not along the lines of things...more
Jeanette
Sep 02, 2008 Jeanette rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanette by: Elisabeth
There are so many layers of meaning in this book. You can't just close it after the last page and say, "Yep, I read it. Here's what it's about..." The story is fairly simply told, almost understated, but you can feel the author's love for his country and its people, warts and all. There's so much to explore here about hope, despair, love, exploitation, forgiveness, and perseverance. My greatest admiration goes to the Jarvis character for the way he deals with his grief and shows his forgiveness...more
Valerie
Okay, I had to read this book for a class I'll admit but this book surprised me. I actually got into it. These men are old but somehow so full of promise. They learn so much and I learned a lot about South Africa. The reason I didn't give this book a higher rating is because its just so sad almost the whole time and just when I thought it was getting hopeful the author had to put some doubt into the mix. If you like nice sugary ending like I do I would not recommend this book. However I saw the...more
Mohammed
إبك, إيها البلد الحبيب, بقلم آلان باتون

المكان: جنوب أفريقيا, المشاكل: الأرض البوار, إختلال المجتمع القبلي-المدني, وكذلك الفصل العنصري, طبعا, أليست جنوب أفريقيا؟ أما الشخصية الرئيسية فهو رجل كنيسة, يتأمل, ويتألم, ويكابد لإنقاذ مايمكن إنقاذه.

تتحدث الرواية عن القسيس الذي يزور جوهانسبرج, بحثا عن أخته وابنه اللذيّن التقمتهم المدينة المفترسة, فيدخل في دوامة خطرة. نبرة الراوي محايدة, ترمي إلى التحليل بدلاً عن التجريح. كما يتضمن النص فرضيات عن مسببات تفاقم جرائم السكان الأصليين, و يسلط الضوء على معاناة...more
Najme Ghanbari
Feb 13, 2014 Najme Ghanbari rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: هرکسی که دوست دارد عاشقانه ای تلخ بخواند.
Recommended to Najme by: مادر نازنینم
ادبیات ترجمه کتاب دقیقا فرزند زمان خودش است و روح اواخر دهه 40 و اوایل دهه 50 در متن کتاب موج می زند. شور زندگی، عدالت خواهی و عشق به سرزمینی تنها و نیازمند کمک، و حتی سیمینی که جلالش را در میانه ی ترجمه ی این کتاب از دست داده است و رنج کشیده است و باز به آن پرداخته است، اینها چیزهایی است که تا هفته ها پس از خواندن کتاب رهایم نمی کند
Michael
There’s a fine little epigram titled "On Some South African Novelists" that I’ve always remembered from the anthology of poetry we used in my college lit class.

You praise the firm restraint with which they write
I'm with you there, of course:
They use the snaffle and the curb all right,
But where's the bloody horse?

Now that’s plenty clever. Never having really heard of any South African novelists, it was always hard to imagine which particular South African novelists were under discussion and...more
Will Byrnes
This is a classic, written by a white South African about a time before apartheid. Two fathers, one white, one black and their sons. It is stylistically unusual. Quotes are not used, for example. Conversation is indicated by leading dashes. Also the speech is quite formal most of the time, which conveys some of the culture of the place, I expect. Dark forces are abroad, but hope shows its face here as well, as there are leaders trying to prevent a descent into the madness to come. Zulu pastor St...more
Laura
Just arrived from France through BM.

Page 105:
Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone. Aye, and cry laud for the man who is dead, for the woman and children bereaved. Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.

Page 109:
And some cry for the cutting up of South Africa without delay into separate areas, where white can live without black, and black without white, where black can farm their own land and mine their own minerals and administer their own laws....more
Tempo de Ler
«Chora, Terra Bem amada» canta de forma excepcionalmente poética a beleza de África, narrando em simultâneo a comovente história de dois homens, unidos por um trágico acontecimento em que a acção do filho de um resultaria na morte do filho de outro.

Esta seria, só por si, uma história já muito especial, mas Alan Paton serve-se deste microcosmos, deste drama entre duas famílias, para extrapolar e penetrar num tema tão sensível como o é a segregação racial praticada na África do Sul após o término...more
Doc Opp
This was a very interesting book. The style of the writing was very unusual - it felt like a mixture of a tribal oral history and a modern western novel. Which I suppose makes sense, given that it takes place in South Africa during a time of westernization. The book, despite what you might expect, is not really about Apartheid, although Apartheid is omnipresent in the background. It is about what happens when the old system of enforcing standards of behavior breaks, without anything to replace t...more
Maura
The writing style was hard to follow because Paton didn't introduce the speakers of quotes or use quotation marks. Having to figure out which quotes were said by whom distracted some of my attention from the story. The book is divided into three parts, with the first two being a little slow and most of the book's events occurring in the third part. The third part of the book was excellent, but I am not sure that it made up for the slowness of the first and second parts.
Julie
This book was truly one of the most moving books about compassion, forgiveness, hope, and love that I've ever read. I was so touched when I finished reading this book - my understanding and awareness of mercy and justice, and the charity one is capable was increased tenfold. It is my opinion that anyone who reads the story of Rev. Steven Kumalo, set in beautiful yet struggling South Africa, will walk away a better person for the experience.
Shane
Much has been written about this novel, and about the writing of it, that it is the stuff of legend. An unknown writer is discovered by American friends with literary connections, the manuscript is almost lost en-route to the publisher in New York, the last few chapters are delivered in a breathless gasp in person, and voila: a book is born that touches the heartbeat of a nation, and of the world.

If everyone, black and white, in South Africa had developed a similar relationship with each other a...more
Mike
Thought provoking! Deeply moving! Heart-touching! So many different ways to describe "Cry, the Beloved Country."

Racial disharmony isn't a problem exclusive to the USA. That point is made undeniably clear throughout this book. The Europeans, both Dutch and English, entered uninvited and unwelcome into the very birthplace of the Black race and immediately began to subjugate them. But first, they destroyed the native way of life, replacing it with nothing but crime, both petty and violent.

In some...more
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A Review 2 32 Oct 02, 2013 04:35AM  
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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
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“The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that things are not mended again.” 114 likes
“But there is only one thing that has power completely, and this is love. Because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power.” 109 likes
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