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The white, working-class neighborhood of Triomf, a suburb of western Johannesburg erected over the rubble of Sophiatown, from which hundreds of black families were forcibly removed in the 1950s, is the setting for Marlene van Niekerk s internationally acclaimed, multi-layered novel of modern South Africa.
Triomf shines a harrowing and vividly colorful, often hilarious, light on the lives and daily routines of a twisted family, illuminating through a wicked wit and devastatingly sharp eye a crystalline vision of the hypocrisies and hopelessness of a society living under the burden of Apartheid.
Mol Benade, her brothers Treppie and Pop, and son Lambert live in a rotting government house, which is the only thing they have, other than the decaying appliances that break as soon as they re fixed, remembrances of a happy past that never really existed, and each other a Faulknerian bond of familial intimacy that ranges from sympathetic to cruel, heartfelt to violently incestuous. In the months preceding South Africa s first free election in 1994, a secret will come to light that threatens to disintegrate and alter the bonds between this deranged quartet forever.
As lyrical and acutely observed as Nadine Gordimer s The House Gun and as penetrating as J.M. Coetzee s Disgrace, Triomf s microcosmic view of South Africa on the brink of disintegration has been acclaimed as one of the best novels ever written in Afrikaans. It marks the arrival of an author of international stature.
Van Niekerek s extraordinary novel, beautifully translated by the South African poet Leon de Kock, offers a devastating glimpse of an under-class locked into a cycle of poverty and despair. Christina Patterson, The Observer
An astonishing departure for Afrikaans literature this is an extraordinary novel and a milestone for South African literature. Justin Cartwright, Daily Telegraph
Marlene van Niekerek was born in 1954 and grew up on a farm in the Caledon district of South Africa s Westerm Cape. She studied philosophy, languages, and literature at the universities of Stellenbosch, Amsetrdam, and Witwatersrand, where she is currently lecturer in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.