When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.
The more things change the more it stays the same. I live in Johannesburg, I am a minister of religion, I am an Afrikaner and a Policeman. This book deeply moved me. Something resonates with my soul as I see so much of this pre-Apartheid world still alive in the Johannesburg of today. I am astonished that the places (suburbs, townships, shacks, even the Midlands of Kwa-Zulu Natal) as painted by Alan Paton are so easily recognised. It felt as if I walked into the book… a book that was banned by the then Apartheid government.
The story is gripping and lavishly beautiful. Paton sketches the contrasts of South Africa and the opinions of the different racial groups towards living together so accurate that the book has the feel of a documentary on the one hand, but driven by a deeply moving story arranged into three acts which can be summarised like this, act 1: the prodigal son goes to the forbidden place and his father goes in search of him act 2: what if the son wants to return, but he cannot because he is corrupted? ; act 3: a loss of innocence or an opportunity to renew.
I am stunned as how Paton draws you in, let you bleed emotionally with Mfundisi (Reverend) Stephen Khumalo and his ‘opposite,’ James Jarvis. I am amazed how love and understanding is born out of hate. Yet, Paton doesn’t give easy answers – even political answers – to a country deep in pain, but let you cry out with him, “Nkosi Sikeleli Afrika!” (God save Africa!). To say the least, this is heavy and like the chief of Ixopo I am not sure if we as South Africans have the answer yet. But miracles do happen in the same way that the darkest clouds bring the best rain.
This book comes greatly recommended. Everybody should listen or read it at least once in their life. It is also deeply religious and speaks to the soul. It is indeed heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time.
The British actor, Michael York reads this story with so much pathos; it feels like an act of love. He grips you and doesn’t let you go. I will therefore forgive him his terrible Zulu and Afrikaans pronunciations… completely.
If you don’t care to let the tears roll and be gay at the beauty of new and true human relationships, this book is for you!
I think this source of audio book was translated by Horace Gregory, link as follow: