I wonder if there could have been a more important book, a better reading of any book, or a more moving book for finding a humanity within oneself that certainly I did not know I had--but now do.
This is my favorite book of all time, and I've read it many, many times. I thought I'd enjoy hearing it read, but his reading seemed all wrong . . . very casual, very British-upper-class . . . like he himself was bored with the book. (Maybe I wanted/expected a more "African" voice?) Anyway, I didn't enjoy it, and the problem was not the book itself, because believe me-- I love this book. I guess the reader just didn't match the voice in my head.
The book is a must read, and should be assigned to every high school senior or college freshman, it is that important. And if you're not in school, read it anyway. It is a wonderfully written-book about South Africa, apartheid, the very human face of the conditions and struggle for freedom. The reason I'm only giving it 4 stars is that I think the narrator (Frederic Davidson) did not help to enhance the material, and at times was somewhat of a distraction. His "female voice" made both my husband and I shake our heads. Even given that, I would have ordered this book again, because the writing and the characters are beautiful, vivid, alive, and they, and the author who gave them life, deserve our respectful and heartfelt attention.
I was expecting a story of the evilness and injustice in an apartheid South Africa, and while there was that, what I really heard was a moving story of hope, personal tragedy, and triumph over tragedy. Its a wonderful story of good people working beyond the expectations and rules of a divided culture. The story of the "broken tribes" and broken land is as timely now as it was then. It is truly timeless in the stories of the lives of the people and how they were affected by a unsustainble social system and economy. The characters are rich and interesting.
I was initially put off by the voice of the narrator - his British accent is a very stuffy, old fashioned "World War II BBC" accent. But then that is the era of the book. His other "voices", Zulu and Afrikaans, are rich and wonderful to listen to. This was outstanding, and I'm sure I will listen to it again.
Alan Paton does a tremendous job of describing 1950's Apartheid S. Africa from a simple Zulu man's perspective. I found the story line to be intriguing and the narration to be outstanding.
I will admit, Mr Paton's voice was at first difficult to listen to, but his ability to accent the English, Afrikaans and Zulu characters provided great depth to the narration and made the book truly engaging.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
In listening to “Cry, the Beloved Country”, one should remember it was published in 1948. Alan Paton’s book is an update to “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. It is less brutal than Wright’s “Native Son” or Morrison’s “Beloved” but it strikes at the heart of apartheid and the insidious nature of discrimination and slavery.
Life is full of compromise; full of good and evil. The fictional Kumalo and real Mandela did the best they could do which is better than 99% of the human race. “Cry, the Beloved Country” begs the question of what is right and infers much of South Africa’s suppression was driven by white’ fear; but, in broader context, Paton reveals the complex and insidious evil of discrimination.
Paton creates a few white characters with a growing understanding of the consequence of discrimination while subtly injecting a more militant black movement. Again, one is reminded of Mandela’s early life, his militancy and imprisonment.
“Cry the Beloved Country” gives one some idea of what life must have been like for Nelson Mandela.
Simply a great book. The story is moving and universal -- all can understand. I don't know South African accents...but, it doesn't really matter. The book could have been read by an American and still tell its story. Don't pass this up.
Book Blogger and Planetary Defense Commander
When I got this book, I assumed it would be just an account of atrocities, and although the book could be classified as a tragedy, that's not its whole point. There are many characters who are positive role models dealing with difficult circumstances.
I was also surprised to learn to what extent modern South Africa's problems existed when this book was written.
I was drawn in by the story and couldn't stop listening ot this book! The narration is wonderful, the voices of the different characters are done very differently. LOVED it!