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Cry, The Beloved Country

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  48,682 Ratings  ·  2,937 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 1948)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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John Wiswell
May 02, 2008 John Wiswell rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Feb 09, 2009 Marcia Case rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 14, 2007 brook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 04, 2008 Denise rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 19, 2008 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Book Concierge
Audiobook narrated by Frederick Davidson.

And old man, a Zulu pastor in a small impoverished South African town, has lost three dear relatives to the big city. His brother, John, has gone to Johannesburg and opened a business. He no longer writes. His much younger sister, Gertrude, took her son to Johannesburg to look for her husband who had gone previously to find work; the husband never wrote, and Gertrude has not written. And finally his son, Absalom, went to Johannesburg to look for his aunt,
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
Sep 22, 2008 Ashley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who don't know how to read and just make it up anyways.
What the..?!?!
Why is this rating so high?
This book was tortuous to read. Every page, DESPITE the wordings was worse than getting my eyelashes pulled.

Seriously? Seriously Oprah?

Here's my summary of it:
Man goes to find son who dies because he killed some guy, man goes back home.

The end.
Jul 24, 2009 Elisabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jun 04, 2008 Gwendolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 01, 2008 Tammra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Barb Middleton
We are moving to South Africa so I thought I had better read this bestseller from 1948. I listened to the audiobook performed by the actor, Michael York. His incredible voice changes helped me visualize the characters; however, I should have read the book as my weakest learning style is auditory and it took me awhile to get the African village names and characters sorted. The Reverend Stephen Kumalo, who lives in Ndotsheni, a village in eastern South Africa, receives a letter saying his sister, ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Sep 02, 2008 Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it really liked it  ·  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
Dec 17, 2015 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Cry, the Beloved Country" is the story of a Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo who reluctantly must leave his rural life to go and find his son Absalom and sister Gertrude who have been swallowed up by Johannesburg in South Africa of the 1940s.

There is a lot to love about this book, beautifully written, compulsive reading, and satisfyingly messy with all the different voices and views captured well and the most part sympathetically. The notable exception is the voice of black South Africans who agitate
Mar 15, 2016 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in high school and loved it for the story. That was in the 1960's when apartheid was in full swing and Mandela was in prison. This time I loved the story (fortunately some of the racial and political problems have been solved) but was also able to appreciate the beautiful, lyrical prose. I have shed many tears while reading this, most in last section of the book, which is the section that brings some hope to the situation in a 1940's South Africa that is pre-apartheid but a coun ...more
Mar 16, 2009 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Will Byrnes
Oct 29, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 20, 2015 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I admired this book a lot, but I never quite loved it. It's often affecting and there are sections that are quite beautiful. And it's a kind book, which I really liked. There's a deep-seated optimism and kindness that really permeates throughout. I liked the last 20-30 pages quite a lot.

But it's very distant from its characters: the style throughout is biblical, which gives the prose a solid sternness that's interesting and sometimes impressive but also pretty distancing. The characters - with f
Richard Gardner
Jun 30, 2015 Richard Gardner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A novel that examines racial division. social injustice and the violence that exists in South Africa during the 1940s. Yet 'Cry The Beloved Country' is a moving story about two men who are able to rise up above the bitterness and tension. One is Stephen Kumalo, the Zulu pastor and the other Jarvis, the white man.
Their lives are brought together when the son of Stephen kills the son of Jarvis.
The novel also explores the deprivation suffered by the blacks and life both within a small African vill
Jun 17, 2014 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-reads
"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.
I wanted to like this book more than I did. If I'm awarding star ratings for the books message, then it's 5 stars. However, if I'm honest about how much I enjoyed the reading experience, or how eager I was to pick it up, then I have to admit that I didn't love it. In terms of the story, I cannot fault the book. There is nothing I would change about the plot, all the themes of heartbreak were perfectly placed. There was also inspiration to be found in the end message, which again, was faultless. ...more
N. Jr.
Jan 10, 2015 N. Jr. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cross-culture
This book was published in 1948, nearly 70 years ago, with a writing style that is clean, sparse, yet poetic (I believe Paton also wrote poetry) and this requires paying attention to every sentence (i.e. not a light read). It is also another book that doesn't use quotation marks (like The Night of the Hunter).
It examines the old system of apartheid in South Africa and the effects it had on the human level for both black and white.

If none of the above deters you, you might want to give a try, bu
Aug 24, 2014 Murray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, fiction
I read this in preparation for and during a trip to South Africa. It was written long before Apartheit was a hot topic in this country. There are passages in this book that are passionately poetic. The story is a timeless tale of oppression, loss and grief. How much love can one man have for his land, in spite of it's tragic shortcomings? Paton sings out,

“THERE IS a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing
Jan 20, 2013 Rihab rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Stefan Yates
May 21, 2012 Stefan Yates rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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Guardian Newspape...: June 2016- Cry the Beloved Country 14 12 Jul 08, 2016 10:48PM  
Around the Year i...: Cry the Beloved Country, by Allan Paton 6 34 Feb 16, 2016 09:36PM  
Apartheid 14 73 Aug 13, 2014 01:42PM  
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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.” 165 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.” 145 likes
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