South African Novels

These novels are set in South Africa or have South African characters. They show people dealing with the discrimination of apartheid.

Novels About Apartheid

Waiting for the Rain | Sheila Gordon

Frikkie is a ten-year-old white boy who visits his uncle’s farm on school breaks. His friend Tengo, a black boy, lives there as his family works on the farm. Frikkie is eager to be done with school and begin his working life. Tengo years for an education; a cousin in Johannesburg arranges for him to get some old textbooks. The multiple-perspective narrative continues as they grow up together and their lives diverge as adults.

July’s People | Nadine Gordimer

The Smales, a white family living in South Africa, have to flee due to a civil war when the black population overturns apartheid. They go to the village of their black servant, July.

Cry, the Beloved Country | Alan Paton

In Book I, Stephen Kumalo, a priest from a small South African community, gets a letter saying his sister is ill. He sets off for Johannesburg to help, and also to look for his son, Absalom. Book II presents some of the same events from the perspective of James Jarvis, a man who receives sad news and then heads for Johannesburg. Book III is told from the points of view of Kumalo and Jarvis.

Too Late the Phalarope | Alan Paton

Pieter was a soldier and then a high-ranking police officer. He sometimes experiences what are described as “black” moods from an internal struggle. Pieter arrests Stephanie, a black woman, and finds her strangely appealing. The Immorality Act forbids sexual relationships between the races (this is set in South Africa). He feels guilty and doesn’t know who to talk to or what to do about it.