Reading for Pleasure

Alan Paton was born in South Africa in 1903. From the beginning of his career, he became heavily involved in race relations. While serving as principal at a school for delinquent African boys, he composed his masterpiece, Cry, The Beloved Country.

Cry, The Beloved Country is a powerful novel revolving around the social conditions and consequences of progress facing the South African natives in the middle of the 20th century. The novel is divided into three sections. Book one follows the Zulu pastor Steven Kumalo as he leaves the village — where he spent his life — in search of his son.

In book two we encounter the white man James Jarvis as he tries to come to terms with his son’s murder. In the third and final book, both men struggle with their personal grief and find redemption in the service of others.

This is a moving, beautiful book and a worthwhile read for anyone with an interest in social issues. The following excerpt is from book three:

“They do not speak again, and the path levels out, running past the huts, and the red empty fields. There is calling here, and in the dusk one voice calls to another in some far distant place. If you are a Zulu you can hear what they say, but if you are not, even if you know the language, you would find it hard to know what is being called. Some white men call it magic, but it is no magic, only an art perfected. It is Africa, the beloved country.”

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