Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
"I was a senior in high school when I was first introduced to Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country, a book in which one of the most important characters, Paton tells you in his introduction, 'is the land of South Africa itself,' which was immediately compelling to me. Published in 1948, it is ever-present and relevant, and as a 17-year-old youth, it was a truly eye-opening read. Having grown up in a mostly white town with mostly white peers from junior high on, this was the first book that really spoke to me about racial divide and injustice. I soaked up every word and even today reflect on its wisdom. Seventy years later, it still feels current.
'What kind of book is it?' Paton writes in his Note on the 1987 Edition. "It is a song of love for one's far distant country, it is informed with longing for that land where they shall not hurt or destroy . . . for that unattainable and ineffable land where there shall be nor more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, for the land that cannot be again . . . the land where you were born. It is a story of the beauty and terror of human life, and it cannot be written again because it cannot be felt again.'" — Courtney Shultz, copy editor