Denise's Reviews > Cry, the Beloved Country

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
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Jun 04, 2008

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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. It drove me crazy, having to re-read everything to figure out if someone was talking, or just thinking, or if it was just the writer giving us information.

The story is set in South Africa, and it helped me understand why that country has been such a mess for so long. There are so many different races, languages, belief systems, and classes, it's a wonder anything gets done there at all. It's interesting to see the effects of apartheid, the growing pains of a country trying to find equality for all races. It was written in the 40s, so things have changed enormously since it was first published, but it still functions as a cautionary tale. It is infuriating, inspiring, slow-moving but worth the time.
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05/11/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Simona If you read the intro to the book, you'll find that Paton read John Steinbeck, who uses the dash to precede dialogue, liked the style, and copied it.

Alex Diversity is NOT the reason for South Africa's problems. Exploitation, inequality, and lack of investment in the majority of people (for starters) are.

Denise I agree Aleks, it's not the existence of the diversity that is the problem, it's the way it is handled.

Ankit Agrawal I am an Indian and I have to say the same things are in India. Many different castes and sub-castes people are divided into and that creates a lot of problems within the country. Just the thing is our problems are not as openly known to the world as South Africa's

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