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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  463 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
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 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 inces ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published March 29th 2005 by The Overlook Press (first published 1994)
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Although the setting is a poor (white trash) family, The Benades, in one of the poorest neighborhoods in South Africa, the story could be regarded as the universal plight of the poorest of the poor in, especially, a capitalistic society. Sociologically it could be justified as a testimony of how a social system worked for all its participants or not. In the Benade family's case neither Apartheid, nor the soon to be Post Apartheid era did anything to drag the family out of the miserable life they ...more
Holly Foley (Procida)
Jun 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
This book beats out The Glass Castle as the portrait of the THE MOST dysfunctional family. Easily squeamish should not attempt this novel. It is set in early nineties South Africa which was a very turbulent time period. This extremely poor white family gets crashed on the rocks of the turbulence both from within their family, and within the community. The characters are intricately explored. The dialect is difficult but fascinating (there's a glossary) Beware of intense descriptions of incest an ...more
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, enthralling... emotionally draining, but excellently written.
Jake Goretzki
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Stunning. Imagine Steinbeck taking on an Afrikaaner family - all Biblical violence, incest and poverty. Fold in some Trainspotting-level self-harm and substance abuse. Leaven it all with a soundtrack of crackling, working class comedy and vernacular word play (thank you, translator) - to the extent where at times this reads like a classic sitcom or soap (in a good way). It's just so good.

Here's a set of characters that earn our sympathy (despite their outer awfulness) that are just so very well
Stefania Sorbara
Aggrovigliati tra loro “come le interiora di un frigorifero, con il motore fritto per il voltaggio sbagliato”, così sono i fratelli Benade e il figlio-nipote Lambert. “Troppo pochi, persino per loro stessi”, “Moll e Pop e Treppie e Lambert non si bastano neanche lontanamente”, eppure si serrano, s’aggrovigliano, fino a strangolarsi, perché la famiglia è la sola “prospettiva necessaria a vivere e a sopravvivere”, “l’unica cosa che conta”, sopra tutto e nonostante tutto, e se anche ha dei segreti ...more
Charmaine Elliott
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I must admit to getting in my car and driving up and down the streets of Triomf to view the house where the Benade's live - so real did this family become in the reading. Like the observer of a hideous car crash, I just wanted to catch a glimpse of these people. The terms 'poor white' and 'white trash' have been bandied about for as long as I can remember. Until this book I must confess that I did not truly understand the breadth, the depth and the horror of these phrases. With a 60 year lifespa ...more
Feb 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
A bit long for me, but I am not known for my readerly patience. While it evokes SA social awareness and history, it also stretches outward. I think a reader who knows nothing about SA history or politics can appreciate the novel for its insights into "white trash" existence. That's what I liked about the book. It's also useful for Freudian thinking: you'll discover some new, twisted triangles in this book.
Rod-Kelly Hines
Sep 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-owned
This was definitely one of the most difficult books I've ever picked up...It was so dense and really took quite a bit of time to sort through. It was like Faulkner on steroids. But alas, I'm done with it.
Amanda Brinkmann
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is NOT for the feint-hearted. It conjurs up images of the ' poor, uneducated, whites', that became one of the many legacies of a post-apartheid South Africa. Protected before, simply because of their skin colour, living in a decaying government house, slowly but surely being surrounded by the ' new' black and coloured emerging middle-class, who are upgrading these homes - the central characters of this book, create very real, extremely disturbing, but a very honest picture of this prev ...more
Jun 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Although this is an excellent book I would not recommend it to anyone who is not familiar with South Africa as it is full of local colloquialisms. It is these touches that lend aunthenticity & it would be frustrating for a reader who doesn't know what they refer to, despite a good glossary in the back of the book.
Sep 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Ik vond het moeilijk om lang achter elkaar te lezen. De familie leeft in zo'n uitzichtloze situatie. Ze kunnen niet anders dan bij elkaar blijven maar doen elkaar zoveel leed aan. Er is mij veel ontgaan van wat er gezegd werd over het oude en nieuwe zuid-afrika. De karakters werden mij in de loop van het boek wel dierbaar.
Jul 02, 2008 rated it did not like it
A horrible book. A vast landscape of barrenness. So awful it is difficult to come up with adjectives to fully express the desparate bleakness of this book. Any time spent reading it is completely wasted
Jillian Goldberg
Feb 21, 2011 rated it did not like it
I could not get past the first 20 pages of this incredibly turgid, horrific novel. Perhaps it suffered in translation. I consider myself a reader with a strong stomach but this defeated me.
Derek Baldwin
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Disturbing tale of Seff Effrican po white trash
Dec 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
I just couldn't get into it. It was a hard book to read - both the subject matter and the writing - and it didn't pay off for me.
Sep 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Torn between and 3/4 but went for the 3. The writing is great and a very well thought through story but it was too long for me. There is no relief for the characters in the end and even though I'm by no means a sensitive reader, there was too much swearing. I got the point; they're very low class 'white trash'. It has many universal themes but not completely my cup of tea. Glad I read it (even though it took 3 weeks to struggle through)
Apr 26, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was incredibly awful. I was miserable the entire time reading it. If I didn't have to read it for a class, I would have DNFed a couple chapters in. Not a single likable character; they're all terrible and everything they do is terrible. The "plot"/story is meandering and pointless, nothing even really happens, and I'm not at all a fan of her writing style. -2/10 never touching this again.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
I've rarely experienced such dread while reading a book. It's disturbing, harrowing, and (unfortunately) it feels authentic. When I finished, I felt obliged to get a bit drunk.
Becca Miserlian
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Difficult to get into/hard to understand at points. Very long and not much happens in my opinion. Keep in mind that I went into this knowing almost nothing about 1990s South Africa though.
Joske Vermeulen
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
read in afrikaans, not english
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So well written, so depressing.
Jesse Osborne
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. I love it with my heart and soul. I love it for many reasons: its Faulkner-esque telling, in a fractured narrative, of a family of dirt poor whites dealing with the elections of '94 in South Africa. I love the transformation of the "farm novel" and how it resonates with the Southern Gothic genre of American lit. I love how the translator, Leon de Kock, kept intact the original Afrikaans vernacular and in turn, the authenticity and integrity of the story. Definitely one of the b ...more
Jeanette Smith
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Triomf is a disturbing tale that highlights the hypocrisy of Apartheid in South Africa, albeit from a surprising perspective.

It is about a poor, white Afrikaans family, who the reader does not really want to be acquainted with, but who will trap you in the same sticky web in which they hold each other. Its pleasantly readable prose is one of the reasons for this, but the 'inability to look away from a car crash' syndrome is probably more to blame.

Van Neikerk reveals her characters slowly, puttin
Apr 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ik weet niet zo goed wat ik van dit boek vind. Het ene hoofdstuk boeide enorm, het volgende was dan weer niet zo interessant. Dat komt ook door de opbouw: aangezien in ieder hoofdstuk één gebeurtenis wordt besproken, is het erg afhankelijk van wat er gebeurt of het een interessant deel is. Het onderwerp boeide me wel, dus ik ga op dit moment voor drie sterren.
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was ok

This is probably a good choice for a South African reader or, at least someone with a great understanding of South African culture. It's been a difficult read for me, but, I'm sure that's due to my ignorance if South African culture.
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Not a very comfortable book to read, but so full of real people with the strangest characteristics. I knew they existed somewhere on the fringe of my world, but in reading this book I could be a fly on their wall and watch their sordid, dysfunctional lives unfold.
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read it in Afrikaans if you can. I had a translation into English but since it is about an Afrikaans family and the author is Afrikaans it would be my first choice. Will find a copy and read it again.
Nov 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Gelezen na het magistrale Agaat en dat was misschien geen goed idee, ook al zit ik een half jaar in Zuid-Afrika en ken ik de meeste toespelingen. Zwaar onderwerp dat subtiel wordt benaderd, maar niet kernachtig genoeg. Moeten doorbijten rond 3/4, maar blij dat ik het uitgelezen heb.
Sep 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An amazing read to top off a month long trip to SA. Without knowing the history and culture it would be hard to follow, but these are some amazing characters who I would never want to meet but can't seem to forget.
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
read it in afrikaans and it was special, i wonder if in english or other language is the same - a shocking story however - read the authors other novel too (agaat)
i'm looking forward to her next novel
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Passion for R...: Citazioni d'autore 4 7 Jun 29, 2015 08:39AM  
The Passion for R...: * Su Triomf 1 6 Jun 24, 2015 01:45PM  
Incest theme 1 1 Apr 29, 2013 10:21AM  
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Marlene van Niekerk is a South African author who is best known for her novel Triomf. Her graphic and controversial descriptions of a poor Afrikaner family in Johannesburg brought her to the forefront of a post-apartheid society, still struggling to come to terms with all the changes in South Africa. In translation by Leon de Kock, this book was critically acclaimed in the US and UK, and was film ...more
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