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Cry, the Beloved Country (Banned Books) Hardcover

4.3 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Paperview U.K. Ltd.
  • ASIN: B007G8X7BS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,129,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

In the city of Johannesburg a father seeks his delinquent son. His search takes him through a labyrinth of murder, prostitution, racial hatred and, ultimately, reconciliation.


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Format: Paperback
Reverend Stephen Kumalo lives with his wife in a remote village, Ndotsheni, where he is a respected umfundisi. His sister Gertrude, his brother John and his son Absalom have all gone to live to Johannesburg. One day The reverend receives a letter from Theophilus Msimangu urging him to come to Johannesburg because Gertrude is very sick.
And so begins Stephen's long descent from the mountains to the capital which almost resembles a descent into Hell. Indeed, he is to discover that Gertrude is a prostitute and liquor seller who doesn't care about her young daughter, that John is a politician fighting against the white leadership and that Absalom has murdered a white man.
Mr Paton admirably portrays all the contradictions which the people of South Africa endured in the 1950s. And he does so through the eyes of a forlorn old man who tries to make sense of the way the members of his family behave. The author's humanity, compassion, generosity and wisdom are apparent in every sentence he writes and his novel shows with sensitivity the complex social and racial issues in a country where so many had to suffer for so long.
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Format: Paperback
Stephen Kumalo, an old, poor Zulu priest from the drought-stricken, dying village of Ndotsheni in the Natal, must use his meager life savings to travel to 1940s Johannesburg, to seek out his sister and son, who left long ago. “When people go to Johannesburg, they do not come back”. There he encounters the squalor, poverty and crime of the big city, and there he meets Msimangu, a fellow priest who offers him help and comfort on what becomes a terrible journey of discovery. For he finds that his sister has become a prostitute, and his son one of a gang of housebreakers who ultimately shoots and kills a prominent white liberal, and must hang for his crime. By coincidence, the dead man is the son of Kumalo’s white neighbour, Jarvis, who owns a farm in the hills above Ndotsheni.
Such are the bare bones of Alan Paton’s “story of comfort in desolation”, around which he has created what I would rate as one of the greatest of twentieth century novels. This is a book of extraordinary power and beauty, and has lost none of its impact now that the apartheid South Africa it describes is finally gone. The situation of privileged whites living off the exploitation of cheap black (or Asian or South American or East European) labour, of affluence existing side-by-side with dire poverty, is hardly unique to a particular time or place. Paton’s writing is direct yet also poetic, and for all the apparent simplicity of style this is not an easy book to read for anyone of sensitive disposition, particularly a parent of young children. His prose cuts through the trivial preoccupations of life to reveal the essential and timeless, in a way that strikes at the heart and which I still find genuinely moving after countless re-readings.
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Format: Paperback
I have read this novel twice. It is truely a work which challenges the reader on various levels. At times you are locked in a wonderful lyrical poem; the descriptions of South Africa are vivid and so authentic that you are there. Paton is wise enough to pace the action in a previous time. There is no one that is naive enough to keep the heart wretching drama in the past. It is prehaps these fact that everyone can relate to in the pathos of Rev. Kumalo in his journey to reunite the tribe and his gradual awakening to the fact that there are changes that are occurring that his compassion and tears can do nothing for. Indeed this is worth the reading. The only complaint I have is that there is not enough attention given to Gertrude. But this criticism does not decrease the value of the book. One can still see Mr. James Jarvis in the delipated church as the rain washes away his hatred and it is replaced by compassion. "Cry The Beloved Country" is not just a novel about South Africa but about the social injustices we all see around, or at least we should be able to see .
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By A Customer on 5 July 1999
Format: Paperback
Cry, the Beloved Country is my all time favorite book. It dives deep into the African experience using the life of a minister. From the beginning paragraph when Paton gives his description of the land of Africa I was hooked. This book touched my heart and inner emotions, and yet was entertaining. When and if you do read this work take it slow and envelop the inner meaning. It will definetly stop you and make you think. Give it a try!!!
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Format: Paperback
Stephen Kumalo, a black Anglican priest from a rural Natal village, travels to Johannesburg to search for his for his son Absalom, with whom he has lost touch, and his younger sister Gertrude, who has fallen ill. Upon arrival, Kumalo discovers that Gertrude has become an alcoholic prostitute involved in the clandestine liquor trade. The news about Absalom is even worse; the young man has fallen into a life of crime and has been arrested for the murder of a white man during a burglary.

"Cry, the Beloved Country" is sometimes described as an indictment of apartheid-era South Africa, but in fact it was written in 1946, two years before the election of Daniel Malan's Nationalist government which introduced the apartheid system. The word "apartheid" has now passed into English as a synonym for racist discrimination, but it was originally an Afrikaans word meaning "separateness", and was used to describe the Nationalists' grand scheme for "separate development" of the various races of South Africa. As the book makes clear, however, racial discrimination and injustice already existed under the pre-1948 United Party government of Jan Smuts; indeed, some of what were later to become the most hated features of apartheid, such as the pass laws, were already in force. It is this injustice which is the theme of Alan Paton's novel.

South Africa was originally an agrarian society, and remained one long after the start of European colonisation in the seventeenth century; for many years the Afrikaners were known to the English as "Boers", a word which literally means "Farmers". By the twentieth century, however, the discovery of the country's mineral wealth led to a South African industrial revolution, and South African industry was dependent on cheap black labour.
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