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Triomf by Marlene van Niekerk

Triomf (1994)

by Marlene van Niekerk

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1666102,110 (3.86)12



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Showing 4 of 4
This definitely wasn't a pleasant book to read. It was, as they say, outside of my comfort zone. The main characters, Pop, Mol, Treppie and Lambert Benade form an incestuous family, at the bottom of society. They are uneducated, they are racist, they are violent and loud and looking for trouble. They are not the kind of people you would really enjoy as your neighbours.

The setting is Johannesburg, South Africa, 1994. The first democratic elections are on their way, big changes are expected. These are the final days of the old South Africa, of the days of Apartheid. The Benades observe the changes in their own very particular way from their family home in Triomf, a neighbourhood built for poor whites, on top of what was once the artistic (and mixed) neighbourhood Sophiatown. A very symbolic location.

The strength of this novel was, to me, the way van Niekerk shows a basic goodness in these unpromising characters. Through the book you get to know them, and their peculiarities. I actually started to, what should I call it?...not so much like them, but appreciate some parts of them, or even understand them. Lambert is raving crazy, but also an artist. Mol is dumb but also just looking for some love and ready to give loads of it. Treppie is evil hearted, yet smart in his own way, and sharp. Brutality and tenderness mingle in this novel, which is tragic and comic at the same time. After 50 pages I thought I wouldn't finish this, because the characters were so unsympathetic, but surprisingly I did, realizing - somewhere on the way - how well written it was, and how well the characters were described, very distinctive. ( )
  Tinwara | Jul 21, 2009 |
A brutal look at the life and times of one family at the bottom end of society.
Reading it is like being hit in the face with a fist, repeatedly. It is a very realistic picture though and takes one on a journey to another life where the hopelessnes and claustrophobia of the characters is felt accutely.

It will take some fortitude to read it to the end. ( )
  metaljockey | Nov 29, 2008 |
This was honestly one of the most replusive and disturbing books I have ever read. But, having said that it was worth consuming in my mind because it was such a challenging piece of fiction. Plus, I read it over a year ago and not only has it stuck with me, it has provoked me to read many other novels set in South Africa and has started a mini-obesession with the history of the country. Not bad for a book I almost gave up on. It isn’t for the weak of heart, but yes-I recommend it. ( )
1 vote zenhikers | Mar 25, 2007 |
A down and out South African family--Pop and Mol an aging and tired couple, Lambert their destructive and violent about to turn 40 year old son and Treppie--Mol's mean and scheming brother living in an old bulldozed black settlement called 'Triomf' are the major characters in this farce. Pop and Treppie have been saving up all year to give Lambert a woman for his birthday. The somewhat dim-witted Lambert has his own ideas of what to do with her--and meanwhile they're getting blitzed by all kinds of visits from neighborhood and national politicians--it's an election year--and having it out with their snooty neighbors. This is very funny and moving novel not altogether unlike John Kennedy Toole's 'Confederacy of Dunces'. I liked it a lot. ( )
1 vote lriley | Jul 28, 2006 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Het is laat in de middag. Eind september. Mol staat achter in de tuin. De zon die tussen de huizen door over de prefabmuur valt, reikt tot aan de middelste knoop van haar duster.
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