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Cry, the Beloved Country (Oprah's Book Club) First Scri Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 519 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 860-1401044215
ISBN-10: 0743262174
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In search of missing family members, Zulu priest Stephen Kumalo leaves his South African village to traverse the deep and perplexing city of Johannesburg in the 1940s. With his sister turned prostitute, his brother turned labor protestor and his son, Absalom, arrested for the murder of a white man, Kumalo must grapple with how to bring his family back from the brink of destruction as the racial tension throughout Johannesburg hampers his attempts to protect his family. With a deep yet gentle voice rounded out by his English accent, Michael York captures the tone and energy of this novel. His rhythmic narration proves hypnotizing. From the fierce love of Kumalo to the persuasive rhetoric of Kumalo's brother and the solemn regret of Absalom, York injects soul into characters tempered by their socioeconomic status as black South Africans. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Review

"One of the best novels of our time." --New Republic

"A beautiful and profoundly moving story, a story steeped in sadness and grief but radiant with hope and compassion." --Orville Prescott --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner Book Company; First Scri edition (August 31, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743262174
  • ASIN: B0007YJ3VQ
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (519 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,485,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When first published in 1948 in apartheid South Africa, Cry, the Beloved Country raised more than eyebrows as a powerful book about the power of unity and an author's unflinching hope of a future where segregation no longer exists. The book summoned feelings of pride, optimism, and anticipation of a long-desired goal. But Paton's lyrical, poetic prose is not your typical run-of-the-mill anger evoking story about discrimination. The story is a humanizing experience that evokes feelings of sympathy and understanding, not hatred for a system so blatantly wrong.
In Cry, the Beloved Country, readers feel an uncanny connection to three things: the land, an old black rural priest searching in a corrupt city for his son, and an old white rural man confronting the loss of his son. All three aspects of the book are connected by a common thread. And a great thing about the book is that Paton doesn't feel the need to build up to the emotional climax by setting the readers against a well defined antagonist, or even an antagonist at all; on a micro-scale, the story is a moving tribute to man's inherent dignity; on a macro-scale, the themes and plethora of symbols are applied to man's all-too mortal nature.
This book is also a can't-miss for any fans of poetry who want to read a good work of prose. As the New Republic puts it, Cry, the Beloved Country is "the greatest novel to emerge out of the tragedy of South Africa, and one of the best novels of our time." I would be inclined to agree.
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Format: Paperback
Of the (literally) thousands of books I have read in my life, this is still my favorite. I first read it as a freshman in high school (in 1960, when apartheid was still the law of South Africa), and the sheer beauty of the language took away my breath. The words were so powerful that I memorized many portions of the text, just so I would be able to repeat the words aloud whenever I wished. When JFK was assassinated in 1963, I gave a presentation to my senior English class, and began it with the section of this book that starts: "There is not much talking now, a silence falls on them all...." The class was mesmerized at Mr. Paton's eerily appropriate words, and tears were shed. I've always encouraged my own children to read and they are almost as voracious with books as their dad. Needless to say, this is one of the books I highly recommend to them, because of the excellent writing, and I highly recommend it to you for the same reason.
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Format: Paperback
I first read the book when I was in high school for our novel section of AP English. As a writer now, it is strangely thrilling to see how Paton's ideas and poetry influenced my own prose. "The Grapes of Wrath" by Steinbeck was good, but I felt that it lacked the words of the heart that Paton writes with. Never have I read a more simple and profound book, so lovingly crafted, so authentic and natural, that some fifty years later after Paton wrote the novel, it still has not been superceded. Kumalo's plight is everyman's plight; his burden our burden; his son our son. Dear students, don't read this book because your teacher tells you to, you will learn nothing that way. Read it, because you earnestly desire it, because it is well worth it.
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Format: Hardcover
How much can a man love his country? How much can he love his son? His God? Can justice prevail when man cannot? What is forgiveness? Redemption? Grace? To consider all these elements in one novel is not possible. Or is it?

"Cry, the Beloved Country" is all these things and more. It is forgiveness writ large. It is agape love in the doing. It is the story of two fathers, each with a son. One son is the victim of apartheid and is lost. The other is also a victim of apartheid but of the other side. He seeks to find a way to make things better, to make things right. The lost one kills the seeking one. One is African, the other is Afrikaaner, and therein lies the difference and the ultimate. This difference, this ultimate, this absolute are what drove Alan Paton in the writing of South Africa's most famous, most searing novel of the separation of races in all ways.

Absalom Kumalo's life is limited in all ways because he is black South African. Arthur Jarvis is an engineer and has all the privileges of white South Africa, yet he is keen on social justice and works to bring it to pass. What irony then that the one without kills the one seeking to bring justice. However, it is this very irony that brings their fathers to friendship, to a bonding of black man and white man.

Umfundisi is the black priest (not Catholic) of a simple, poor church in a village located near the home of the rich landowner and farmer, James Jarvis, who really does not know his son until he is dead. It is the getting to know his son that he connects with the African, and the father becomes the son in the ways of love and forgiveness. The umfundisi is one of my favorite characters in all literature I have read because of his humility and reverence.
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Format: Paperback
Tragic story set in South Africa during a now-ended era. Cry the Beloved Country is worth a careful read for its many-layered messages of loss and faith, of murder and penitence, of guilt and redemption - and through it all is Rev. Kumalo's love for his people (and not just his, but for the inherent goodness in ALL people), his family, his church - and most of all, his country.
It's a classic that has already withstood the test of time - and will doubtless continue to do so.
Don't miss it, and share it with someone else.
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