This is the most distinguished novel that has come out of South Africa in the 20th century, and it is one of the most important novels that has appeared anywhere in modern times. Cry, the Beloved Country is in some ways a sad book; it is an indictment of a social system that drives native races into resentment and crime; it is a story of Fate, as inevitable, as relentless, as anything of Thomas Hardy's. Beautifully wrought with high poetic compassion, Cry, the Beloved Country is more than just a story, it is a profound experience of the human spirit. And beyond the intense and insoluble personal tragedy, it is the story of the beautiful and tragic land of South Africa, its landscape, its people, and its bitter racial ferment and unrest.
Public Domain ©1948 by Alan Paton; (P)1993 by Blackstone Audiobooks
How do you rate a classic novel of all time, that is well read, but the narrator gets the names wrong?
"Sophiatown" is NOT promounced SOfiah-town, but so-FIRE-town.
"Veld" is pronounced felt (as in heartfelt).
These words occur often throughout the novel, and every time they are used I wince. Do these audiobook publishers do NO RESEARCH at all? Is it really OK to mangle the Afrikaans quotes so badly that one has to burst out laughing? Is it OK to have a phony accent that makes a South African cringe? I have lived in Johannesburg all my life and I never heard anyone speaking like the white man from the reformatory.
So, Michael York's narration skill gets 5, but subtract 2 for bad research. The story gets 5+, and is worth listening to. It's a great novel. Unfortunately a lot of what Alan Paton wrote in 1948 is still applicable 60 years later. SA is now a democracy, and Apartheid is no longer law, but the crime in Johannesburg is still just as bad, and there are still squatter settlements and poor people being exploited.
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!
What a great audio book. The narrator is fabulous but it is the material - the book itself - that is so timely and timeless. I am just starting to work in Mozambique over the last four years in a small NGO and my travel always take me through South Africa. This book is just as timely now as then, I'm sure. I see the hopes and the fears of both white and black very evident in so much of what once was colonial Africa and now the struggling-to-emerge modern Africa. It is still as portrayed in this classic work.
We have adopted a little Mozambican daughter who has come to the US to grow up with us in America. This book will go into a growing collection of works that I will one day share with her as she grows older to help her understand what was, what is, and what is possible in her world.
truly one of the best books I have ever read. marvelous narrator. the power of the writing is such that the most ordinary scene is elevated to a level of deep meaning. makes modern works which have recieved great New York Times reviews seem absolutely shallow and poorly written when compared to this masterpiece. Cry the Beloved Country makes it clear how great and transcendent the best literature can be.
This is a truly wonderful book, made better by the excellent reading voice. An intense and plausible story, where virtue is seen in both black and white, and the shortcomings of man are also seen in black and white. Despite being 50 years old the story is still highly relevant. The descriptions of South Africa make it clear that it is both worthy of being called beloved and alas, also worthy of crying over....
I first read this book in high school. I entered it uninterested and slightly rebellious. But Paton drew me in. At times I couldn't follow what was going on, I was a mere 17. But years later, I remember this book. This is a book that demands a second visit and a renewed look at man's treatment of man.
I read this book when it first came out, and listened to it on audio recently. It moved me just as much now as it did then. The narrator is easily understood and makes the occasional Zulu words sound easy.
I only listened to this book because it was an Oprah book pick. I?m glad I did. The story weaves back and forth and really comes together at the end. You see the story of two families at opposing ends of the same situation and at opposite ends of South African societal privilege. It sounded like an older recording, but was still palatable.
First: Michael York's narration is spectacular. I have begun reading this novel many times (didn't read it in high school -- though it was required!)but was never able to move past the first chapter. Listening to York's voicing of the characters, especially the 'character' of the land of South Africa, was captivating. Second: The beauty and lyricism of Paton's writing, reflect the simple, honest truth of the characters and the times they are living through. York's narration sets a perfect tempo and is nuanced and evocative. LISTEN TO THIS BOOK -- It is a classic that has been brought to life for me and it will remain indelibly imprinted in my heart; on yours, also, is my wish. Go well.
"Well worth it"
A very moving story, capturing the essence of South Africa at the time, and exceptionally well narrated.
"A classic for everyone with Africa in their Blood"
I was enraptured from start to finish - this book captures the spirit of South Africa, the story holds you spellbound from start to finish - a true classic
"Beautiful and moving."
Fascinating to read of life in pre-Apartheid South Africa. And yet this human traits remain timeless. This narrator made the olden style of writing sound natural, and easy to follow.
Only once or twice, when the subject of a chapter switched focus, did I wonder if I'd skipped too far - I hadn't, the story simply brought in and followed another strand for a while. But without the ability to see the page numbers, I had to trust Audible (as I cycled along).
I would highly recommend this book, and recommend it on audible.
"South African classic; read by non South African"
I picked up this well known (and no doubt dated) South African novel by famed liberal writer, Alan Paton. I wanted to hear again the much quoted beautiful opening paragraph about the meandering hills and dusty roads of Ixopo; despite the limitations of South African liberalism and associated writings.
I had to put it down after the first few pages, seriously irritated by the cultured English rather than South African accent of Michael York, making well known terms like 'veld' (Afrikaans) and names like 'Ixopo' (Zulu) or 'Sophiatown' mispronounced and ultimately irritating, paragraph by paragraph, page by page.
Audio recordings may not have to be read by somebody from the book locale and setting, but if names and local terms are poorly pronounced and understood by the narrator, so much of context is lost and the story becomes jarring and painful rather than mellifluous as this novel's opening paragraph must be...
Audible should set up a place where recommendations for narrators and needed recordings or re-recordings might be made. How about somebody like Antony Sher for 'Cry, The Beloved Country' - which in its title already conveys so much...
"A beautiful sad book about a beautiful sad country"
One of the best - great descriptive writing, dignified characters, a moving plot
Cry the Beloved Country really brings home the devastation wrought on local communities by industrialisation and urbanisation
Michael York's reading brings all the characters to life as dignified human beings
The trial and of course the ending.
"excellent book, strongly recommend it"
yes, both the story line and the readers voice is very captivating.
The lead character forced to face the reality of a changing South Africa.
He has a fabulous talent for performing as an old african man.
It made me very reflective of human nature and its ability to cause both violence and goodness in equal measures.
This is a classic novel about South Africa, at a time of social change. Though it is highly politically charged, it is also very human and very accessible to all readers, regardless of their personal interests in the continent. It addresses complex issues of good and evil in humans.
"Warm and informative"
The simplicity and selflessness of the protagonist.
The juxtaposition of Johannesburg with homeland of the protagonist creates a chasm which is impossible to cross. Seeing the city through the eyes not only of a stranger to the place, but through someone who is a true stranger to urbanisation brought a new dimension.
York has a warmth to his voice which feels as though he has experienced the narrative and adds a gravitas to it that would perhaps be missed otherwise.
Pity. The destruction of lives and the selfishness of people in the city, even of his own family, who with no regard for those they left behind began lives in the city of dereliction and immorality. What could bring someone to do that?
"A must-read book, very well narrated"
A compelling read, setting the recent history of South Africa in context. Wonderfully developed characters throughout. Very well narrated.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.