John's Reviews > Cry, the Beloved Country
Cry, the Beloved Country
by Alan Paton
by Alan Paton
Jul 20, 11
Read in July, 2011
This is a classic. Its inclusion on a Great Books of the 20th century list initially brough it to my attention. Surprisingly, this book is quite popular and is assigned reading for many students. My experience with South African neo-colonial novels consisted mainly of J. M. Coetzee. Reading this work, which preceded Coetzee by at least two generations, one feels the same sense of outrage and shame. A beautiful country with magical landscapes and exotic names inhabited by warring cultures, torn apart by lawlessness and rampant crime. Paton goes to the trouble of using bizarre Afrikaner or Zulu expressions in his book but provides a handly glossary at the back to assist the reader. Reading about the senseless murder of a white activist who had fought for indigenous rights, I was struck by the parallels with the real-life case of Amy Biehl, a social worker in South Africa who also fought against apartheid and ended up getting murdered during a mob uprising. A foundation in her name was established in South Africa to carry on her mission. Butg there is room for more writers like Paton and Coetzee to give a literary perspective on the troubled history of South Africa.
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