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Alan Paton (1903–1988)

Author of Cry, the Beloved Country

47+ Works 11,342 Members 204 Reviews 16 Favorited

About the Author

Political activist Alan Steward Paton was born on January 11, 1903 in Natal, South Africa. He attended Maritzburg College and Natal University. He taught at Ixopo High School and Maritzburg College. In 1935, he was appointed principal of Diepkloof Reformatory for African Boys in Johannesburg and show more became interested in race relations. Although he intended to become a full-time writer after the publication of his first book, he instead became involved in politics. He was a member of the Liberal Party of South Africa, serving as vice-president, chairman, and president before the party was forced to disband in 1968 because of its anti-apartheid views. Paton is best known for his political activism and his first novel, Cry, the Beloved Country. He also wrote a second novel, Too Late the Phalarope, and two autobiographies, Toward the Mountains and Journey Continued. He died on April 12, 1988 in Lintrose, Botha's Hill, Natal. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Alan Paton

Cry, the Beloved Country (1948) 9,509 copies, 182 reviews
Too Late the Phalarope (1953) 686 copies, 15 reviews
Ah, But Your Land is Beautiful (1981) 307 copies, 1 review
Instrument of Thy Peace (1970) 227 copies
Tales from a Troubled Land (1961) 119 copies, 1 review
Debbie Go Home (1961) 76 copies, 2 reviews
Kontakion for You Departed (1969) 35 copies
Creative Suffering: The Ripple of Hope (1970) 15 copies, 1 review
Hofmeyr (1964) 13 copies

Associated Works

On the Firing Line: The Public Life of Our Public Figures (1989) — Contributor — 114 copies, 1 review
The Treasury of English Short Stories (1985) — Contributor — 85 copies
Easter Stories: Classic Tales for the Holy Season (2015) — Contributor — 77 copies, 11 reviews
Best Loved Books for Young Readers 11 (1968) 60 copies, 1 review
The Penguin Book of Southern African Stories (1985) — Contributor — 51 copies, 1 review
A Quarto of Modern Literature (1935) — Contributor — 40 copies
The Track to Bralgu (1978) — Foreword, some editions — 28 copies
Stories to Remember: Literary Heritage Series (1967) — Contributor — 22 copies
Cry, the Beloved Country [1995 film] (1995) — Original novel — 10 copies


Common Knowledge



Excellent story of a black preacher looking for family members in the big city during a period when things were very bad for non white people in South Africa, before apartheid, when things became terrible.
SteveCarl | 181 other reviews | Jun 24, 2024 |
This book was absolutely beautiful. The poetic flow of the narrative provided a much deeper connection with the book than I had anticipated. Admittedly, the lack of dialogue markers made it confusing at times; however, I felt that this didn't significantly impede the value of the novel.
AngelReadsThings | Jun 1, 2024 |
I don’t have the words to express how much this book touched me. I’ll be thinking about this for a long time to come. Just read it.
milbourt | 181 other reviews | May 11, 2024 |
#ReadAroundTheWorld. #South Africa

This story was written in 1946 by White South African author Alan Paton, and published in 1948 on the eve of the creation Apartheid in South Africa. It is a classic work of protest literature, focussing on the evils of racism, exploitation and colonialism. Paton later started the Liberal Party in South Africa which opposed apartheid. This book was first published in the US as it was unlikely to be published in South Africa at the time.

The story takes us to the village of Ndotsheni in Natal, where Stephen Kumalo, a Zulu minister, is called to go to Johannesburg to see his sister who is ill. Sadly he finds she has become involved in selling liquor and prostitution. He then seeks to find his son Absalom who he eventually discovers in jail having shot and killed a white man. Despite the heartbreak Kumalo must find a way to go on, to fight for the plight of his people and his village.

The book moves between the gentle conversations of Kumalo and some paragraphs questioning where South Africa is headed and the tyranny of the oppression of black people in mines, in the villages and the squatter camps of the metropolis.

This was a moving story, well-written and impacting. The tone is mildly patronising at points, which doesn’t surprise me given it was written nearly eighty years ago, but Paton takes on the important role of becoming a whistleblower on an international level, revealing what was going on in South Africa. You can sense his passion for the country and the vehemence of his beliefs about the evils of racial segregation and exploitation. This is an important work cutting to the heart of a great tragedy.
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mimbza | 181 other reviews | Apr 7, 2024 |


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