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Cry, The Beloved Country

Cry, The Beloved Country is a fantastic novel by Alan Paton. Evoking biblical language, this three part novel tells the story of South Africa before apartheid. The protagonist is Stephen Kumalo, a Zulu reverend from what was the Natal province of eastern South Africa. The story begins when Kumalo receives a letter from a fellow reverend in Johannesburg telling him that his sister is ill. From there, the plot delves into Kumalo's experiences in Johannesburg and highlights three main themes; the bonds between father and son (Kumalo searches for his son, Absalom who has not responded to his father's letters in quite some time), racial inequality and injustice in South Africa, and the influence of Christianity on South Africans. The title is in one of my favorite quotes from the book;
This is no time to talk of hedges and fields, or the beauties of any country... Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone. Aye, and cry aloud for the man who is dead, for the woman and children bereaved. Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.
What I found was really interesting about this novel was that it was written before the policy of apartheid was implemented. Actively fighting for equality wasn't the major focus of the story, so the natives fight against the British is more subtly discussed. The novel became a tad too religious at times for my liking, but I nonetheless thought it was extremely well-written. Many scenes are written so similar to the Old Testament and other ancient books that you half-expect them to be quotes. All-in-all, it wasn't a very long read so I highly recommend picking it up if you have the time. Rating: ★★★★

Summer Reading

Reading Lolita in Tehran