Picks and Pans Review: Ah, but Your Land Is So Beautiful

updated 03/29/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/29/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Alan Paton

The language is elegant but a bit old-fashioned; there is often an antique lilt in the dialogue. It works beautifully for Paton, the South African who 34 years ago wrote Cry, the Beloved Country. His new novel, set in the 1950s, further explores the multiracial nation's major social problem—apartheid. A beautiful Indian girl whose father has become a wealthy merchant is the brightest in her school, but she goes alone to sit in at a library that is restricted to whites. She knows she is destroying her future. Although this book has no standard plot, episodes seem to flow effortlessly, told mostly in conversations. An elderly black woman observes: "There is so much grief in our land that when one suddenly encounters joy it sets one to weeping." This is a book that will be read through tears. (Scribner's, $12.95)

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