First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
An immediate worldwide bestseller when it was published in 1948, Alan Paton’s impassioned novel about a black man’s country under white man’s law is a work of searing beauty. Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by rachial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born o the dignity of man.
Before starting off with this weekly post, I want to greet everyone a happy Friday! It is the last Friday of the third month of the year, just like that. How time flew, and it seems that it has no intentions of slowing down. Another tedious week has passed us by. I am still in the midst of a very busy period, with the audit of the three entities I am handling still undone. I am working to complete them as soon as I can because the tax deadline is waving just over the horizon. I am just hoping that it will all end soon, both this busy season and this pandemic. Anyway, I am hoping all of you are safe and are having a great time.
With personal updates done, it is time to revert to the original intention of this post (haha, I got carried away). For my last First Impression Friday, I am featuring what I surmise will be my last African literary work this month, Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country. It was in late 2018 that I first came across this novel, which I later on learned was listed as one of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. It is my first work by the acclaimed writer, and (something that I have learned in the novel’s lengthy introduction) vocal activist.
The novel’s lengthy introduction also apprised me with the life that Alan Patton has lived. Prior to the publication of Cry, the Beloved Country, he served as the principal of the Diepkloof Reformatory for young (native African) offenders. While serving the reformatory, he introduced reforms that many found “controversial”. Post-World War II, he travelled around the world at his own expense. He toured correctional facilities all over the world. While in Norwary, a small inspiration led him to start the manuscript to what would be a seminal literary work – Cry, the Beloved Country. Just like the reforms he introduced at Diepkloof, his work was frowned upon by the denizens of South Africa but was praised by literary critics in the other parts of the world.
So, it is in this influential work that I find myself immersed in. I just started reading the book earlier today and the earlier parts were introductions about the author and the process it took for it to be published. Nevertheless, I managed to cover two or three chapters which has introduced me to the central character in the novel – Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo. He was serving the remote village of Ndotsheni, in Natal province when he received a letter from a fellow minister apprising him of the situation of his sister, Gertrude who has fallen ill. He then took the train to Johannesburg.
I know, what I have covered very little ground so far. However, I already find the premise promising, as the backstory piqued my interest. The novel was published pre-apartheid but, from what I understand, also contains a diagnosis of the social, and political atmosphere that prevailed in South Africa before the liberals were silenced by the conservative party. I am really looking forward to what the novel has in store. Yes, the pastor’s son is named Absalom so I am guessing that father and son might have some scores to settle. I am hoping I get to finish the novel before the month ends.
How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend!