The book is Alan Paton's ode to his complex homeland—a land that Westerners have come to understand, in part, because of the eloquence of his passionate work. Inspired in many ways by John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country brings heart and humanity to the struggles of black South Africans. First published in America, it brought a new international focus to a South African conflict that had previously been shrouded in secrecy and shadow. From the time of its initial publication, to its immediate worldwide success and recognition, to this very day, Paton's novel has been an anthem to racial tolerance and understanding.
The novel explores several powerful themes, among them compassion, forgiveness, humility and racial injustice and prejudice. While the main storyline tells the tale of two families struggling to overcome hardship, South Africa herself is also a main character. According to the author, the title came from three or four passages that make mention of his beloved country, including: "Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers...for fear will rob him of all if he gives too much." This is a novel that will make you fall in love with South Africa—with her rich land, her struggles, her beauty, her passion and her people.