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0043 | Cry, the Beloved Country – Alan Paton

If you enjoyed this book, you’re going to love the map.

This is a profoundly moving book made all the more poignant for the era in which it was written.

Paton was prophetic in his foreshadowing of the grave injustices to come in the unfolding history of South Africa. The events of this book were to become a clarion call for equality, forgiveness and understanding. In fact, this book is still very much relevant in our polarised 21st century world.

I’ve visited Africa many times. My family lived in two countries there and I’m quite familiar with the varied cultures of that continent. The way this book is written shows a remarkable understanding of the cultural viewpoint of black Africa. It’s not just the events that grip you. From the opening line, the lyrical qualities of this book bore me back to the relaxed, friendly, nature-loving and yet splintered cultures I’m familiar with. It isn’t just that Paton paints a picture of what South Africa is like, he envelopes you in it through his style. It is truly remarkable.

The characters are strong too and very carefully balanced. The book is also measured in such a way that Paton only writes what he feels needs to be said. But it’s not pared down to the minimalist bone as Coetzee is. It’s much more beautiful than that. In fact, it’s interesting to compare the two styles bridging an immense gap of cultural change in the history of that nation.

There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills.

kloof | donga | osier


[The hills] fall to the valley below, and falling, change their nature.


If you’ve got Google Earth installed on your pc, you can actually see the locations mentioned in this book by downloading Arukiyomi’s Google Earth – Cry, the Beloved Country file.

But when the dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret.

terrible > poor > mediocre > okay > good > very good> excellent > superb

3 comments… add one
  • Heather 10 March, 2008, 5:22 am

    Paton has an amazing way of describing South Africa.
    I have always found it astounding how he manages to make the country come alive to foreigners as well as to the people who live there.

  • Arukiyomi 11 March, 2008, 9:27 am

    hmmm yes it made me want to visit and see some of the countryside and meet some of the people… I’ll have to be content with the view from the air and one miserable hour in Jo’burg airport back in 1992 though!

  • Catherine 27 May, 2015, 4:47 am

    I read this some time ago – my review here: https://independentbookreview.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/cry-the-beloved-country-by-alan-paton/ The writing was indeed wonderful and evocative. I remember feeling angry – and I still do. A wonderful people torn to pieces and still suffering from the repercussions of European oppression.

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