CUP Web site

RSS Feed

New Books

Author Interviews

Author Events

Keep track of new CUP book releases:

For media inquiries, please contact our
publicity department

CUP Authors Blogs and Sites

American Society of Magazine Editors

Roy Harris / Pulitzer's Gold

Natalie Berkowitz / Winealicious

Leonard Cassuto

Mike Chasar / Poetry and Popular Culture

Erica Chenoweth / "Rational Insurgent"

Juan Cole

Jenny Davidson / "Light Reading"

Faisal Devji

William Duggan

James Fleming / Atmosphere: Air, Weather, and Climate History Blog

David Harvey

Paul Harvey / "Religion in American History"

Bruce Hoffman

Alexander Huang

David K. Hurst / The New Ecology of Leadership

Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh

Geoffrey Kabat / "Hyping Health Risks"

Grzegorz W. Kolodko / "Truth, Errors, and Lies"

Jerelle Kraus

Julia Kristeva

Michael LaSala / Gay and Lesbian Well-Being (Psychology Today)

David Leibow / The College Shrink

Marc Lynch / "Abu Aardvark"

S. J. Marshall

Michael Mauboussin

Noelle McAfee

The Measure of America

Philip Napoli / Audience Evolution

Paul Offit

Frederick Douglass Opie / Food as a Lens

Jeffrey Perry

Mari Ruti / The Juicy Bits

Marian Ronan

Michael Sledge

Jacqueline Stevens / States without Nations

Ted Striphas / The Late Age of Print

Charles Strozier / 9/11 after Ten Years

Hervé This

Alan Wallace

James Igoe Walsh / Back Channels

Xiaoming Wang

Santiago Zabala

Press Blogs


University of Akron

University of Alberta

American Management Association

Baylor University

Beacon Broadside

University of California

Cambridge University Press

University of Chicago

Cork University

Duke University

University of Florida

Fordham University Press

Georgetown University

University of Georgia

Harvard University

Harvard Educational Publishing Group

University of Hawaii

Hyperbole Books

University of Illinois

Island Press

Indiana University

Johns Hopkins University

University of Kentucky

Louisiana State University

McGill-Queens University Press

Mercer University

University of Michigan

University of Minnesota

Minnesota Historical Society

University of Mississippi

University of Missouri


University of Nebraska

University Press of New England

University of North Carolina

University Press of North Georgia

NYU / From the Square

University of Oklahoma

Oregon State University

University of Ottawa

Oxford University

Penn State University

University of Pennsylvania

Princeton University

Stanford University

University of Sydney

University of Syracuse

Temple University

University of Texas

Texas A&M University

University of Toronto

University of Virginia

Wilfrid Laurier University

Yale University

March 8th, 2013 at 11:17 am

Colin Dayan on the Role of Dogs in Triomf

Colin Dayan, author of the forthcoming Like a Dog: Animal Law, Human Cruelty, and the Limits of Care, recently reviewed Marlene van Niekerk’s unjustly overlooked 2004 novel, Triomf for Public Books.

The novel explores the lives of a poor white South African family in the immediate months before South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994. The family is haunted by a legacy of sexual abuse and incest as well as the uncertainty of the nation’s future. Throughout the novel, van Niekerk, as Dayan shows, draws on the presence of dogs as reflective of both South Africa’s troubled history and as a way to explore moral questions. Dayan writes:

The dogs and the Benade clan who feed and love them force us to ask: what does conscience look like at the boundaries of humanity, at the edge of a cherished humanism? To read these pages is to experience a perspectival shift, a means of seeing otherwise or crosswise. “So, all in all,” as the narrator tells us, “the Benades haven’t got too much to complain about. That’s just the way things go in this world. In-out, on-off, here-there, dirty-clean, dog-dog.”

Colin Dayan

As Dayan shows, the dogs in Triomf also represent an escape for the characters in the book while also calling into question the limits and position of humanity:

From one sentence to the next the narrative shifts from a human character’s perspective to that of the dogs to statements that seem to be coming directly from the narrator. If humanity remains a position marked by relativity and uncertainty in this novel, it is because it shows non-humans—animals, plants, artifacts, celestial bodies, even appliances—possessing an anthropomorphic essence or power.

Watching with the dogs, talking to them, allows Mol to escape, if only briefly, the casual cruelty and commonplace bother of her human family. When things get rough to live through or watch on TV—people shot, bullet holes and blood—then she can announce that she’s taking the dogs outside and nobody suspects a thing

Post a comment