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Cry, the Beloved Country

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  59,158 ratings  ·  3,541 reviews
Cry, the Beloved Country, the most famous and important novel in South Africa’s history, was an immediate worldwide bestseller in 1948. Alan Paton’s impassioned novel about a black man’s country under white man’s law is a work of searing beauty.

Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him n
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published November 25th 2003 by Scribner (first published 1948)
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Kiara Maharaj "Cry, the beloved country" means that our country should mourn as the land is dying and people are losing their morals, turning to crime and becoming…more"Cry, the beloved country" means that our country should mourn as the land is dying and people are losing their morals, turning to crime and becoming corrupt. The subtitle "A story of comfort in desolation" refers to one of the characters, Khumalo. Throughout his stay in Johannesburg, he faces many problems which makes him feel alone. This is the "desolation". But there were other people who supported him, and helped him face these problems. This is the "comfort". Hence, "comfort in desolation".(less)

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A few years ago, after twenty years out of high school, I made a point to start rereading all of the classics assigned to me in school. It has been an arduous yet uplifting task as I have experienced these classic books again through an adult mind. In this the third year that I am participating in classics bingo, I took the opportunity to revisit another high school book for the classic of the 20th century square. Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country seventy years later is still considered the ...more
Will Byrnes
Oct 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
John Wiswell
Jun 24, 2007 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
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 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.
Ahmad Sharabiani
Cry, The Beloved Country, Alan Paton
Cry, the Beloved Country is a novel by Alan Paton, published in 1948.
In the remote village of Ndotsheni, in the Natal province of eastern South Africa, the Reverend Stephen Kumalo receives a letter from a fellow minister summoning him to Johannesburg. He is needed there, the letter says, to help his sister, Gertrude, who the letter says has fallen ill. Kumalo undertakes the difficult and expensive journey to the city in the hopes of aiding Gertrude and of fin
Marcia Case
Jan 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
This is the story of South Africa, and it is the story of two fathers and two sons. There is a moment in which the fathers meet face-to-face that contains everything there is of humanity and the struggle for understanding and compassion in men. That moment left me eviscerated.

I love that this is not written in the spirit of good vs. evil, but in the spirit of man vs. his baser instincts. I sincerely loved Stephen Kumalo and Mr. Jarvis, and I felt both their heartaches. Some books are meant to b
Jun 04, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Nov 10, 2007 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
Jan 13, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Amal Bedhyefi
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finished reading another amazing classic !
Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice.
This was a deeply moving/ eye-opener book that will stay with me for a long time.
Paton touches on almost every level of trouble in post-colonial South Africa: racism, classism, elitism, residual imperical feelings, how wealth corrupts natives, arbitrary segregation, the lo
Sep 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People who don't know how to read and just make it up anyways.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Saman Kashi
زمانی که ترس بر ملتی حکومت میکند؛ کیست که بتواند از سرزمین محبوب خود لذتی ببرد؟

آلن بيتون
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,
Nandakishore Varma
This was my first introduction to apartheid South Africa, and oh did it blow me away! Fantastic narrative concentrating on the human dimensions of a political tragedy. Thank God this abominable system is no more.
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, african, favorites
Had I known what this was about, and had not judged this book by the title (which led me to assume that this would be another depressing commentary on Apartheid), I would have picked it up YEARS ago!

Contrary to what the title suggests, this book highlights the hope in South Africa, even before the dark days of Apartheid really began. It shows forgiveness, and people of different races working together. It does not shy away from the problems: the exploitation of black people who were forced to w
A novel that we read in junior high (grade nine English, to be exact), Cry the Beloved Country was likely the first literary classics offering that I truly and with all my heart and soul enjoyed. It was not exactly an easy reading experience, but it was immensely satisfying, intense, emotionally riveting, and personally much appreciated, as my parents were horrified and aghast that our English teacher would dare have us read a novel they themselves considered politically problematic (both of the ...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
Apr 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
"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
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
This is one I wish I would have read long ago! Wonderfully written, thought-provoking, and though it was sorrowful subject matter, it was easy to read and understand. I recommend this one to all!
Sep 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Dec 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 02, 2013 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
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
نویسنده آدم عمیقیست؛ چنان لحظات، صحنهها و حالات را توصیف میکند که فکر میکنی ساعتها به لایههای پنهان آن لحظه فکر کرده است.
«بنال وطن» البته دور است از ما و ترجمه هم قدیمیست؛ این موضوع اتصال ما را با کتاب کم میکند و اگر هنر نویسندگی و بیان حالات فطری و هرزمانی انسانها نبود، ممکن بود از کتاب جدا شویم.
داستان علاوه بر باورپذیر و پرجزئیات بودن، نگاه جالبی هم به مناقشات تاریخی سیاه و سفید در قارهی آفریقا دارد و مدام ما را میان حق دادن به سیاهها و سفیدها میگرداند، و البته پرواضح است که در این رفتوبرگشت،
Jun 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
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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
“The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that things are not mended again.” 210 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.” 170 likes
More quotes…