Cry, the Beloved Country – Alan Paton

I met our twentieth reader on a bright morning after a heavy snowfall. We cleared off a bench overlooking some subway tracks, buttoned up our coats a little tighter, and began a conversation about Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country (1948). Paton’s eloquent advocacy for racial equality and his depiction of the devastating consequences of systemic racism in South Africa garnered international attention during in the decades following the implementation of apartheid. Our reader turns to this novel during moments of heartbreak, and often passes a copy along to friends going through hardship. We talk about her personal connection to Paton’s work, the gentle style of the text, and the type of fiction best suited for cathartic sobbing.

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“I’m so much older than the last time I read it, and my life is very different. I mean, between the last two times [I read it] I moved to Canada, and suddenly…there were children in my life. My stepson from my former relationship is still a really big part of my life, and because there’s a parent-child relationship in the story I was broken… [Before, I used to] be like, ‘That’s really sad.’ Whereas this time I was like ‘OH MY GOD! How can this be happening!?'”

Any thoughts on Bram Stoker’s Dracula? Vampire literature in general? The horror genre or the Gothic genre? Let me know in the comments! Interested in your thoughts/feelings for an upcoming book club meeting. Thanks for sharing! 

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