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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton was such a deep, thought provoking novel. Paton really gives an incredible view of the events going on in South Africa and especially in Johannesburg. The main character is Reverend Stephen Kumalo who travels from Ndotsheni to Johannesburg to find his ailing sister. When he arrives he finds that his sister is not sick in the traditional sense of the word, but rather living in such a lifestyle that is not good for her physically, morally, or emotionally. She has resorted to prostitution to make a living for herself. Unfortunately, in Johannesburg this is typically the rule, not the exception. Johannesburg is a place where many devestating events occur and many people are changed for the worse. Through the eyes of Stephen Kumalo we see various parts of South Africa and most of them are scary and dark. Paton does a wonderful job showing this through the events that occur and people that are affected. He also shows the hope of a better South Africa through Kumalo's son Absalom. Absalom murders a white man and is prosecuted and later executed. He starts out feeling sorry for himself and being very dark and empty, but by the end he has repented within himself and sets up a future for his unborn son. Absalom represents the transformation it takes to create a better South Africa.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon September 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
Ah yes, Cry, the Beloved Country. Fodder for high school reading lists for time immemorial... or at least since it was written. I won't blather on at great length about this one as it has been acclaimed and written about almost unto inanity but it is worth a few words.

The very high level overview of the story: A native South African priest from a struggling rural village braves the white-dominated big city in search of his lost family. I suspect that much of the reason that the book has made its way into so many schools is that it exposes one to the issues of apartheid and bigotry of the region which, let's face it, as Americans we're not particularly well aware of. This is one of those forgotten but important bits of history that aren't really at the forefront of the American consciousness. It's well worth a perusal as a history lesson if nothing else.

From a reading and enjoyment standpoint the book does suffer a bit. I staggered through the first 70 pages over the course of several days and completely failed to hit my stride. The book is heavy in conversations so the use of the South African dialect can at times be unbalancing and distracting and characters are well developed but often hard to tell apart. At least some of this stems from my inability to engage with the book early on but I would argue that lack of engagement comes too from confusion of one character with another.

On balance, a great work but one that must be approached in a more scholarly manner. Certainly not one to be taken on the train with all manner of conversations going on around you as distraction. Sit a savor or save for a lazy Saturday afternoon and blow through in one long and savory trip.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
A must-read for anyone with an interest in South Africa, its history, and its race relations. Set in a time before apartheid was conceived, it is about the culture clash between rural blacks and their counterparts in the cities, about the conflicts stemming from a lost way of life that cannot be replaced and the inevitable tragedy the resulting loss of values brings about. What I most love about this book is the almost poetic style of the prose, incorporating the essence of the Zulu language very well even though it is written in English. It is said that Alan Paton was inspired by John Steinbeck when writing this book, and it is true that there are parallels in terms of the atmosphere it evokes. However, Cry the Beloved Country left me more hopeful at the end than I felt after finishing Grapes of Wrath. It touches on many of the same themes, but in the end it is its very own book about a very unique country.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Beautifully written, this is a timeless story of class struggles, of faith, and of hope. And the gentle traditions and manners of the African tribesmen and even the Afrikaans make one long for a different, more civilized time. I loved this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
everyone should read this book. It is full of humanity. One man, who finds himself facing a world he never thought would be part of his life. A book full of love and hope.
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on January 21, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
In the process of reading this book. It was recommended to me by a professor who helps prepare high school students for college. So far the book profound. Truthful, emotional yet full of strength and character.
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on December 5, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book has always been at the top of my "Top Ten" list since I was teenager. It shaped my social conscience and is a pleasure now to go back to . . . and to give a permanent place on my bookshelf.
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on July 20, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I HAD A VERY OLD , OLD COPY AND AS I WAS TRYING TO REREAD IT WAS FALLING APART. THIS BOOK IS A MUST HAVE FOR MY LIBRARY. SO I ORDERED A REPLACEMENT AND IT WAS HERE IN NO TIME AT ALL.
BEAUTIFUL BOOK.
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on January 10, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This story is eternal, and beautiful. I thought it would be boring. I also encourage you to see the movie as well, though of course it leaves some things out of the story.
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on March 21, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Great price. Needed for a school project.
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