Rita Barnard, who has a Ph.D. from Duke University, is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Comparative Literature Program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She was born in South Africa and grew up in Pretoria, a city not far from Johannesburg (where part of Cry, The Beloved Country is set). She teaches courses on South African literature to both graduate and undergraduate students, and will soon be publishing a book on the subject with Oxford University Press. She has written many articles on South African writers, including the poet Jeremy Cronin and the novelists Zakes Mda, Nadine Gordimer, J.M. Coetzee, and Mark Behr. In addition to her scholarly work, she enjoys running and listening to music, especially music by African artists like Habib Koité, Ali Farka Toure, Salif Keita, and Orchestra Baobab.