Those Who Knew
From the award-winning author of Ways to Disappear, a taut, timely novel about what a powerful politician thinks he can get away with and the group of misfits who finally bring him down.On an unnamed island country ten years after the collapse of a U.S.-supported regime, Lena suspects the powerful senator she was involved with back in her student activist days is taking advantage of a young woman who's been introducing him at rallies. When the young woman ends up dead, Lena revisits her own fraught history with the senator and the violent incident that ended their relationship.Why didn't Lena speak up then, and will her family's support of the former regime still impact her credibility? What if her hunch about this young woman's death is wrong?What follows is a riveting exploration of the cost of staying silent and the mixed rewards of speaking up in a profoundly divided country. THOSE WHO KNEW confirms Novey's place as an essential new voice in American fiction.

Those Who Knew Details

TitleThose Who Knew
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 6th, 2018
PublisherViking
ISBN-139780525560432
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Feminism, Science Fiction, Dystopia

Those Who Knew Review

  • Mackey
    January 1, 1970
    Those Who Knew is one of the most timely, on point works of fiction for this era.With the opening pages of Idra Novey’s sophomore novel, Those Who Knew, you will be hooked into the story of politics, intrigue, masculine abuse, secrets and lies.On an unnamed island, exactly one week after the death of a young woman is ruled “accidental,” Lena discovers in her purse a shirt that she is convinced belonged to the young woman, Maria. Her friend, bookshop/weed store owner, Olga tries to convince Lena Those Who Knew is one of the most timely, on point works of fiction for this era.With the opening pages of Idra Novey’s sophomore novel, Those Who Knew, you will be hooked into the story of politics, intrigue, masculine abuse, secrets and lies.On an unnamed island, exactly one week after the death of a young woman is ruled “accidental,” Lena discovers in her purse a shirt that she is convinced belonged to the young woman, Maria. Her friend, bookshop/weed store owner, Olga tries to convince Lena that she only is imagining things. But Lena suspects the girl was pushed in front of the train by an up and coming Senator, Victor, with whom Lena once had a liaison and during which time Victor quite nearly killed Lena in a fit of rage. As the story progresses, we learn more of Victor and the machinations of his rise to power. We meet Victor’s brother, Freddie, a gay playwright, who also suspects Victor. The beginning of the book is filled with twists and turns and intrigue and is told from multiple points of view. One would think that it would get confusing or scrambled, however, the deft writing skills of Novey, smoothly transition from one person to the next, one thought to another beautifully.The latter portion of the book reads differently from the first as the characters examine their past actions, what they have done; what they might have done differently and how those different actions might have affected a different outcome. It is here in which the beauty of the book resonates and the true talent of the author shines. I gladly would read this book multiple times over and again just to have the pleasure of reading the second half with its beautiful prose.Those Who Knew is succinctly written and is, quite quick of a read and yet there is so much power and such a weighty message within so few pages that you will be left wondering how that could and also wanting more. Idra Novey is considered an “up and coming” American writer – I daresay that with Those Who Knew, she has arrived there already!Thank you #Edelweiss, @VikingBooks, and @IdraNovey for my advanced copy of this book. Those Who Knew is available for pre-order now and will be published November 6, 2018.
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  • Jennifer Croft
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the most exhilarating novels I’ve read in ages. It’s an astonishingly perfect mosaic—intricate, gorgeous—on the topic of corruption, which feels both timely and timeless. It forms the most complete picture I’ve ever read of this subject, providing the reader with direct access into the minds of would-be revolutionaries, washed-up revolutionaries, those with good intentions and those without, those who’ve lost their way, sexy egomaniacs, blundering outsiders and many more. It’s a q This is one of the most exhilarating novels I’ve read in ages. It’s an astonishingly perfect mosaic—intricate, gorgeous—on the topic of corruption, which feels both timely and timeless. It forms the most complete picture I’ve ever read of this subject, providing the reader with direct access into the minds of would-be revolutionaries, washed-up revolutionaries, those with good intentions and those without, those who’ve lost their way, sexy egomaniacs, blundering outsiders and many more. It’s a quick read that reverberates long after you put it down. It is BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN, with the deftness of a playwright, the sensitivity of a translator, the fine touch of a poet and the skill of a born storyteller:“At the sight of Lena emerging from the bookstore, Oscar nearly dropped his biscuits. The day was not quite as stingy with its light today. A few sunbeams punctured the thinning clouds, which he hoped was the reason Lena was squinting so intently and not because she was debating whether to acknowledge him.”“After her release from the valley’s rehab center, she had assumed that her stay with the newly returned Lena would last a few months, at most. Yet somehow a year had gone by as quiet and green as the fields of the valley and she was still playing grandma in the afternoons, still smoking with Lena in the evenings on the porch, watching the light sift through the trees. At breakfast, they took turns being the ornery one at the table. It was the rare morning now that Olga even considered a joint while still in bed. There was really no predicting where, or when, the least lonely years of one’s adult life might begin.”“Oscar closed the door to his daughter’s room and crept toward the living room thinking of the tigers they’d seen the previous weekend at the zoo, the irrelevance of their stealth, moving toward nothing but the bars at the opposite end of their single-tree, seven-rock savannah. He always felt far freer in his first seconds creeping toward the sofa than he did when he reached it just to sprawl there, reading headlines on his phone like some animal slumbering with its eyes open.”I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough. Packed with real wisdom and brutal honestly and heartwarming tenderness, THOSE WHO KNEW will no doubt prove the best American novel of 2018.
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  • Charlie Smith
    January 1, 1970
    Let me begin with my ending: Idra Novey's Those Who Knew is beautiful, classically shaped, compulsively readable, an all too relevant exploration of the moral and ethical conundrums of our troubled times, as lavishly wrought as poetry, rendered in sensational, moving prose, a page-turner-work-of-art, layered, like prescient pentimento. Get your hands on a copy of Those Who Knew as soon as you can, move it to the top of your TBR pile, and glory in it. And be warned, you'll find yourself re-readin Let me begin with my ending: Idra Novey's Those Who Knew is beautiful, classically shaped, compulsively readable, an all too relevant exploration of the moral and ethical conundrums of our troubled times, as lavishly wrought as poetry, rendered in sensational, moving prose, a page-turner-work-of-art, layered, like prescient pentimento. Get your hands on a copy of Those Who Knew as soon as you can, move it to the top of your TBR pile, and glory in it. And be warned, you'll find yourself re-reading and underlining and discovering new colors and richnesses every time.I don't want to bury the lede in a gushing paean about the genius of Idra Novey and the compelling, convulsive brilliance of Those Who Knew, so I'll start by saying this is a novel that tears into the scariest, most alarming layers of the post-November-2016 Zeitgeist using provocatively imaginative plotting told in gloriously structured prose and form, somehow shaping a story in the classic style while making it, too, as current and titillating and terrifying as the improbable nightmare reality show hell that is now masquerading as "real life" as limned by the nightly news.Long/short --- or, rather, short before I get to the long: No matter what kind of reader you are --- lover of literary fiction, fan of fast-paced thriller/mysteries, poetry, current events --- Idra Novey effortlessly packs them all into less than 250 artfully composed pages, fulfilling the promise of her first novel, Ways to Disappear, proving herself to be one of our most gifted and essential writers. "Precisely a week after the death of Maria P. was declared an accident, a woman reached into her tote bag and found a sweater inside that didn't belong to her."Thus begins the novel, Lena finds this sweater, and is unable to shed it: "And then, perhaps because she had once risked her life in a similar garment and still regarded that time as the pivotal aspect of who she was, she lifted the sweater over her head and pulled it on."Lena doesn't want to be burdened by the sweater nor by what she suspects is the truth about Maria P.'s death, but like a tattoo on the soul, Lena knows she can't erase what she knows or what that knowing and her past have made of her, and so, she puts the sweater on.Most people know there is a credibility gap between the people we wish to be (or wish to appear to be) and the truth of who we are, and in the current toxically divisive environment, the magnitude of that gap we've come to expect and accept as normal has grown catastrophically, monstrously vast.Idra Novey's new novel, Those Who Knew [click here for website], is a profoundly insightful and richly, intricately tessellated exploration about how we rationalize sins of compromise and silence, excuse our own complicity in the undermining of the social contract and civility, and how, by doing so, we tacitly sanction continued corruption and crime committed by those in power who exploit, abuse, and calculatedly oppress and demonize those members of society already marginalized and disadvantaged by gender identity, race, socio-economic stratum, sexual identity, and other class-identifiers.But Those Who Knew isn't an exercise in polemical hyperbole; it's a reasoned, all-too-believable glimpse into the lives, minds, and relationship dynamics of those in power who abuse that power, and those others on the periphery or outside who are afraid to, unwilling to, or unable to stop the rot. Too, the novel explores those ways in which people become complicit in the spread of the immorality epidemic, committing or allowing repugnant acts and behavior and excusing them by citing the greater good, which, all too often, means "benefit and enrichment for me and those like me."Lena's discovery of the sweater --- which looks just like one worn in newspaper photos by Maria P. whose death we learned in the novel's first paragraph was declared accidental --- seems to Lena a message from the dead girl who had worked with Victor, a senator and champion of liberal causes who, as a young activist, had been involved with Lena and in a rage, violently assaulted her. She had a sweater, then, much like the one of Maria P.'s which somehow has shown up in her bag.We follow Lena's struggle with what to reveal of what she knows, how to determine what is knowledge and what is intuition or suspicion, and how to navigate those spaces between is and might be, truth and spin, day-to-day practical reality and wished-for Utopia, and what is her responsibility in these matters?Lena, now a university instructor, confides in Olga, a former revolutionary who witnessed the torture of her fellow-revolutionary lover, S, to whom she now writes daily journals while she operates a bookstore dealing in the used volumes that were buried --- literally and figuratively --- during Olga's revolutionary years when rule of this un-named country was hijacked by a dictatorial/fascist sort, Cato. And, quietly, Olga also deals pot from the bookstore, a structure without running water, no internet, and spotty phone coverage: "Hold on, Olga said into her cordless phone, I can't hear you. I'm back in Poetry. Her reception was far better up in Conspiracy, near the front windows. She could hear clearly enough at the register, too, where she rang up the occasional book --- and, yes, also sold a formidable amount of weed."That passage contains a multitude of carefully shaped impressions, its language evocative of a mood, a place, a person absolutely specific, and its concluding few words: "...sold a formidable amount of weed." in juxtaposition with the earlier "...rang up the occasional book" --- are so stunningly right.Idra Novey writes with the precision and care of a poet, able in a few carefully chosen words to convey what would take others (witness me spending 900 words already and not yet adequately explaining how fantastic this book is) many, many paragraphs if they ever managed to achieve it. She combines efficiency and specificity with a luxuriance of language and imagery so well, it very nearly qualifies as sorcery.Olga is wary of Lena standing up to Victor, fearing the consequences. Meanwhile, Victor is contriving a marriage with Cristina, the daughter of a power broker in his political party in order to distract from his connection to the dead girl, but besides Lena, Victor's own brother, Freddy, a gay playwright, has his own suspicions about Victor's culpability. And from this cast of characters (and others added along the way) radiates a web of connections, complications, conspiracies of silence, deceits for reasons both good and not so good, and a labyrinth of loves, connections, relationships, resentments, desires, plots, grudges, and all the stuff of human interaction in a complicated society in a difficult age.But, again, I've failed to convey the gift Idra Novey has for fashioning a remarkably compelling read, inside of which is a richness of metaphor, parallels, and extraordinary language.Pages 29 and 30 are a short section in which Victor escapes to a place where he feels safe, unencumbered, the docks, where real men shout at one another as they operate heavy machinery. Only, this day, the docks are full of "people who didn't belong there. Women and teenagers.Doddering old men with binoculars." He's informed the crowds have been attracted by a pair of whales, mating. The man who tells him this has an eye that doesn't focus correctly, Victor is not up to dealing with "peculiar faces right now" and "no [expletive] whales." And from that beginning develops a blossoming of images; a group of teenage boys eating chocolate bars (a giant one of which makes an appearance in one of his brother's plays) and talking about "whale boners" and the self-revulsion this wakens in Victor, and the way it reminds him of his brother to whom "it had been excruciating to stiffen and deny [Freddy] an answer, to will a growing distance...", and much later in the novel Victor will end up on Freddy's couch, hiding an erection, and again travel to the docks, looking for escape but once more disturbed by those who he believes don't belong, and he'll respond in a way disastrous, in an echo and expansion of this early scene, this two tight pages in which language repeats and escalates and doubles back on itself, full of whispers and hints of that which is below the surface.Like I said at the start, Idra Novey's writing is beautiful, classically shaped, compulsively readable, an all too relevant exploration of the moral and ethical conundrums of our troubled times, as lavishly wrought as poetry, rendered in sensational, moving prose, a page-turner-work-of-art, layered, like prescient pentimento. Get your hands on a copy of Those Who Knew as soon as you can, move it to the top of your TBR pile, and glory in it. And be warned, you'll find yourself re-reading and underlining and discovering new colors and richnesses every time.
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  • Caroline Hagood
    January 1, 1970
    Idra Novey started her writing career as a poet, and she brings this lyrical sensibility to her two novels, the 2016 Ways to Disappear and her new book, out next week, Those Who Knew. She’s also an accomplished translator of a number of pivotal Brazilian works, including Clarice Lispector’s The Passion According to G.H. Perhaps as a result of her movements between various linguistic spheres—whether it be poetry and prose or actual different languages—Novey’s novels telegraph the sensation of mov Idra Novey started her writing career as a poet, and she brings this lyrical sensibility to her two novels, the 2016 Ways to Disappear and her new book, out next week, Those Who Knew. She’s also an accomplished translator of a number of pivotal Brazilian works, including Clarice Lispector’s The Passion According to G.H. Perhaps as a result of her movements between various linguistic spheres—whether it be poetry and prose or actual different languages—Novey’s novels telegraph the sensation of moving back and forth between different mental landscapes.
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  • Megan Bustraan
    January 1, 1970
    I just finished Those Who Knew, and I can see how a lot of people would really enjoy this book, but for me, it was a difficult read. I had trouble connecting with the characters and staying invested in the book. The book seemed rather heavy to me, which I know appeals to a lot of readers. I just prefer a bit of a lighter read. I had some trouble keeping the characters straight.I love a book that makes me feel like a walk down a windey road, and I didn’t feel like that with this read.
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  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    Topical and timely. Lena suspects Victor, an up and coming politician, of murdering Maria. Lena had a relationship with him years before and knows that he can be violent, but she never spoke up. Neither did his brother Freddie, who also knows Victor's rage. Told from multiple points of view and in different formats including snippets of a diary written by Olga, a pot dealing bookstore owner, this can at times feel as though it's veering away from the point but then it pulls back. Thanks to Edelw Topical and timely. Lena suspects Victor, an up and coming politician, of murdering Maria. Lena had a relationship with him years before and knows that he can be violent, but she never spoke up. Neither did his brother Freddie, who also knows Victor's rage. Told from multiple points of view and in different formats including snippets of a diary written by Olga, a pot dealing bookstore owner, this can at times feel as though it's veering away from the point but then it pulls back. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. This is experimental and challenging at time but fans of literary fiction should enjoy it.
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  • Danny Caine
    January 1, 1970
    Idra Novey’s Those Who Knew is a taut, thrilling novel with a revolutionary sensibility. Set on an unnamed island in the aftermath of a harsh regime funded by “The North,” it follows young activist Lara as she falls in with a charismatic senator promising free tuition for all college students. Lara soon discovers lurking darkness beneath the powerful senator’s slick exterior, and the ripples of that darkness play out across this novel’s memorable cast of characters. Parallels to today’s world ab Idra Novey’s Those Who Knew is a taut, thrilling novel with a revolutionary sensibility. Set on an unnamed island in the aftermath of a harsh regime funded by “The North,” it follows young activist Lara as she falls in with a charismatic senator promising free tuition for all college students. Lara soon discovers lurking darkness beneath the powerful senator’s slick exterior, and the ripples of that darkness play out across this novel’s memorable cast of characters. Parallels to today’s world abound, but the novel is no simple allegory. Those Who Knew is a relevant, nuanced, and brisk take on the political novel.
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  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    As I write this review the news is full of a brave woman coming out to speak about being assaulted by a Supreme Court nominee. This book is such a well crafted story of whether it's worth speaking out about someone's past transgressions. And how time and time again woman are portrayed as hysterical and overreacting when they are finally brave enough to speak up against the perpetrator. The only reason I didn't give this five stars is the lack of depth to some of the characters. I would have like As I write this review the news is full of a brave woman coming out to speak about being assaulted by a Supreme Court nominee. This book is such a well crafted story of whether it's worth speaking out about someone's past transgressions. And how time and time again woman are portrayed as hysterical and overreacting when they are finally brave enough to speak up against the perpetrator. The only reason I didn't give this five stars is the lack of depth to some of the characters. I would have liked to have known more about Olga and Oscar.
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  • Kim McGee
    January 1, 1970
    Politics, an unsolved crime and a group of people who might know the truth but have little power are what makes up this timely story.It gets a bit jumbled when you are going from the current day back a decade or more and then reading bits of a play throughout. The story is very similar to what we are seeing in the "Me Too" movement so even though it takes place on a small island with a shaky government instead of Washington or Hollywood, the similarities are clear. A group of not powerful Davids Politics, an unsolved crime and a group of people who might know the truth but have little power are what makes up this timely story.It gets a bit jumbled when you are going from the current day back a decade or more and then reading bits of a play throughout. The story is very similar to what we are seeing in the "Me Too" movement so even though it takes place on a small island with a shaky government instead of Washington or Hollywood, the similarities are clear. A group of not powerful Davids take on a Goliath powerful Senator. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
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  • Ilana
    January 1, 1970
    This book is brilliant, and it's eerily pressing and relevant in one of those art imitates life imitates art kind of ways. It is beautiful, it is stirring, it is thought-provoking. More to come in my proper review for WaPo.
  • Aimee
    January 1, 1970
    This book is not only a powerful and moving story, but also deeply needed meditation about the intersection of gender and society. It feels like a current story and an ancient one. It is a book we need right now, and one that I know I'll return to in years to come.
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  • Faith 09
    January 1, 1970
    I struggled to get through it but overall thought this book was okay.
  • Molly
    January 1, 1970
    Poet and novelist Idra Novey weaves an intricate tale of politics, corruption and the seduction of it all in her latest novel. Told in three distinct sections, in unnamed locations deemed to be anywhere, Lena suspects a former acquaintance, a now powerful senator, has committed a crime. As she attempts to warn others, families begin to question who they should believe. More than a mystery, this literary puzzle is interspersed with a work in progress play, personal book entries and clips of news, Poet and novelist Idra Novey weaves an intricate tale of politics, corruption and the seduction of it all in her latest novel. Told in three distinct sections, in unnamed locations deemed to be anywhere, Lena suspects a former acquaintance, a now powerful senator, has committed a crime. As she attempts to warn others, families begin to question who they should believe. More than a mystery, this literary puzzle is interspersed with a work in progress play, personal book entries and clips of news, showcasing multiple perspectives. As lives intertwine and overlap, what really happened becomes clearer and the unique format enhances what is told in between the lines. Recommended for fans of Home Fire or political thought-provoking stories.
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    This book couldn’t have been timelier if it tried and sadly, it’ll still be on point when it’s published in November. I love slim novels that jump straight into the heart of the matter, confident enough to avoid filler and excessive backstory. THOSE WHO KNEW is no exception. Also, another great book that could care less about your need for sympathetic characters (though, truly, Olga is my hero and I would love another book that’s about 700 pages long just about her! If you’re listening, Idra Nov This book couldn’t have been timelier if it tried and sadly, it’ll still be on point when it’s published in November. I love slim novels that jump straight into the heart of the matter, confident enough to avoid filler and excessive backstory. THOSE WHO KNEW is no exception. Also, another great book that could care less about your need for sympathetic characters (though, truly, Olga is my hero and I would love another book that’s about 700 pages long just about her! If you’re listening, Idra Novey, call me!). But I digress, this novel deals with the moral quandary of whether it’s best to speak out with regard to assault and injustice. It takes a hard look at the ugly roots of misogyny and how it poisons everyone affected—and how it truly finds a home in powerful men. I hate to give anything away from this book, but beyond this point, Novey also examines the frailty of family, relationships, democracy, imperialism, and more. It’s such a smart book; can’t wait to see its reception.
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  • Nancy Mijangos
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Great novel. I loved the satisfying ending.
  • Sally
    January 1, 1970
    On a list of what to read after watching "A Handmaid's Tale"
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