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This is the story of the four inhabitants of 127 Martha Street in the poor white suburb of Triomf. Living on the ruins of old Sophiatown, the freehold township razed to the ground as a so-called 'black spot', they await with trepidation their country's first democratic elections. It is a date that coincides fatefully with the fortieth birthday of Lambert, the oversexed misfit son of the house. There is also Treppie, master of misrule and family metaphysician; Pop, the angel of peace teetering on the brink of the grave; and Mol, the materfamilias in her eternal housecoat. Pestered on a daily basis by nosy neighbours, National Party canvassers and Jehovah's Witnesses, defenceless against the big city towering over them like a vengeful dinosaur, they often resort to quoting to each other the only consolation that they know; we still have each other and a roof over our heads. TRIOMF relentlessly probes Afrikaner history and politics, revealing the bizarre and tragic effect that apartheid had on exactly the white underclass who were most supposed to benefit. It is also a seriously funny investigation of the human endeavour to make sense of life even under the most abject of circumstances.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349112343
ISBN-10: 0349112347
Format: Paperback
(201mm x 137mm x 39mm)
Pages: 592
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 7-Sep-2000
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » Triomf is a courageous though stark novel set in South Africa on the eve of its first democratic elections. It's not an easy read. The unappetizing Benades family are 'armblankes' - what in the USA would be called white trash - and their racism and sexism is that of an alienated underclass, bitter and resentful both of middle-class whites and of blacks. In a masterful metaphor Van Niekerk shows how these people's hopes are built on nothing but the ugliness and destruction of the past; their crumbling Johannesburg streets are built over the ruins of black suburb Sophiatown, burned to the ground at the height of apartheid. Demoralized and disconnected, out of step with the march of history, they cling obsessively to notions of family - although this family has some unpleasant secrets at its heart. The novel's achievement is its success in arousing our compassion. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Marlene van Niekerk

Marlene van Niekerk was born in 1954 & grew up in the Caledon district of South Africa's Cape. She studied philosophy, languages & literature at several universities and is now associate professor of Afrikaans & Dutch literature at Stellenbosch University.

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