[PDF] Those Who Knew ☆ Idra Novey

Idra Novey Å 7 Summary

Former regime still impact her credibility What if her hunch about this young woman's death is wrongWhat 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. Idra Novey can write Her prose is beautiful and she plays with stylistic elements to create a wholly uniue reading experience Unfortunately I closed the cover on this nuanced work feeling somewhat confused I got itI think but there was a lot going on not all of which was clear to me I blame me 3 stars

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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 downOn an unnamed island country ten years after the collapse of a US supported regime Lena suspects the powerful senator she was involved wit. How did she stay true to the voices in her head as they led her into the fire Abuse of power comes in many forms and from many faces It s easy to recognize it in the actions of your opponents but trickier to swallow when it is from those with whom you share an ideology This becomes another of the many ways abusers keep their victims silent Those Who Knew the second novel from Idra Novey opens with a possible murder of a young student activist at the hands of a popular up and coming politician of the people in an unnamed island nation still recovering from decades of a violent authoritarian dictatorship financially backed by the United States Lena a former girlfriend of the young senator was physically assaulted by him during her younger activists days and suspects foul play but uickly realizes how impractical speaking up may be The novel written in short urgent chapters that steam full speed ahead into the psychological maelstrom of politics art and activism is a powerful message on the difficulties of speaking out against abuse while simultaneously acknowledging the necessity of punching up by speaking truth to power This compact literary thriller delivers punch after punch through a playful narrative structure and large variety of voices as Novey makes us confront the difficulties of speaking out while accepting that monsters can lurk inside of any public hero looks at the multitudes of ways victims are kept silent and addresses the violent legacy of US foreign policy propping up dictatorships in Latin AmericaNovey writes with a directness that is as engaging as it is cutting A poet as well as a novelist and translator Novey has exceptionally fluid prose and an ear for dialogue The language wonderfully washes over the reader with insightful asides and graceful storytelling all while moving rapidly forward While psychologically insightful than plot driven the plot is still fast paced and full of twists Each chapter is around two to three pages and readers will find themselves halfway through the novel before they realize they ve been clenching their jaws and holding their breath as Novey continuously turns the screws of tension The story unfolds through the experiences of a wide cast of characters all with some proximity to Senator Victor M Principal among them are Lena the focal character who dated him in college until he strangled her to the point of near death Olga her friend and the aging proprietor of a used bookstore named Seek the Sublime or Die who stays afloat from marijuana sales than books Victor s playwright brother Freddy who is writing a secret play about the unseemliness of his brother and Christina Victor s fiance picked for political alliance and access to wealth and power Novey keeps the storytelling fresh by unveiling plot and exposition through interjections of news articles scenes from Freddy s play and the bookstore ledger all of which move the story forward without feeling like a gimmick or overly heavy handed Kamila Shamsie employed a similar techniue perhaps even effectively using social media as a sort of Greek Chorus in her exuisite novel Home Fire and these post modernist approaches to narrative that show society interacting with the media and arts we encounter is an excellent examination of our times and political mechanisms Ours is the era of Cambridge Analytica and surveillance capitalism imbreeding with standard corporate marketing and this interplay of narrative forms perfectly puts the finger of literature on the pulse of modern politics and society Further Freddy s reluctance to make his draft public since they speak out against his popular Senator brother serves both as an example of how those in power intimidate others into keeping uiet and mirrors the passages from the Olga chapters about how citizens would bury contraband books such as Marx during the dictatorship It s a bold statement on the power of the written word but also reflects that while the nation is free from authoritarianism tyranny it would seem is still rampant Trauma made a kite of the mind and there was no telling what kind of wind might take hold of it Trauma is hidden in the roots beneath every twist and turn of Novey s powerful novel from the personal to the national level At no point is the reader allowed to forget about the political climate on the island befittingly so as the terrors of the now extinguished dictatorship have left scars on the whole of the populace There are characters such as Lena who had their coming of age throwing molotovs at cop cars and then there is Olga who watched her lover executed by the State while they were in prison for political activism Trauma is also weaponized by those in power to both shape their power and keep their enemies silent Victor has risen in public consciousness through his history of resistance against the trauma of the old regime and his efforts towards a social justice forward political platform His most prominent stance is free college tuition which not only gives him a monopoly on the youth vote but also grants him access to their activist circles where he preys on Maria P a college student he sleeps and inevitably throws in front of a bus in a fit of anger This is not a whodunnit his crimes are made plain in the opening few chapters though the motivations take a bit to process out as much as it is a what can be done about it novel How could he be both of these men Lena asks herself about a man she personally knows to be an abuser but watches become a public political idol While Novey began writing this novel before the very necessary MeToo movement took on momentum its release during it makes her examinations all the important to consider Victor is on the right side of history politically for this nation yet he is also an abuser His status as a public figure already makes speaking out against him difficult Lena acknowledges it will be seen as attention grabbing that people will try to invalidate her because she didn t speak up before or cast her as as some bitter ex girlfriend The final excuse is also embodies the way that misogyny and himpathy often lurk in many discreditations Wasn t this one of the ways women unraveled Lena considers they failed to marry at the expected age they got lonelier stuck on some ex lover s success while they remained trapped in one demoralizing position after another their thoughts growing increasingly erratic and unhinged The fact that she is not a public success like Victor will be thrown against her as the public often is drawn to power and supports them instead of showing class solidarity However the ultimate damnation in speaking out here is considering the way ad hominem attacks are so prevalent in discourse it means that outing Victor means undermining his political positions His rivals will weaponize it against the whole progressive movement in which he plays a key role While yes we must condemn the actions of members of our own political parties with the same fervor we do those of the opposition it does raise the point of what it all entails Speaking out also has a nasty side effect of drawing attention to the accuser s personal life as a way of silencing them by demonizing them as if this had any bearing on the truth Lena s family were right wing industrialists who enjoyed prosperity and massive profits through their juice factories under the former violent regime and the nation is primed for new faces to direct their anger at You know Victor will use your grandfather to discredit anything you claim Olga warns her Lena must acknowledge the state of public opinion and how speaking out will conseuently destroy her own family People were tired of rehashing the same familiar cast of villainsthey were hungry for other wealthy families who had yet to own up to their share of the blame It is a difficult truth to swallow and one of the many failsafes power systems have of keeping people uiet Reader s eager for a novel of swift justice and heroic public outcry should look elsewhere as this novel takes on a heavy realism that looks at the crushing realities that keep the system churning onward Justice might have to come laterNot only does Novey keep the trauma or dictatorship forefront in the reader s mind she reminds US readers of their complicity in such atrocities The island nation is unnamed allowing it to serve as an amalgamation for all the nations that faced the wrath of US foreign policy in the 70s and 80s Like the Northerners who have now come to the newly democratic island for tourist purposes such as the college aged American students thrilled to purchase used copies of Marx from Olga who acuired them after the regime fell and people dug up all the contraband books buried in their gardens Novey reminds readers that we are all tourists of sorts like these students by our taking thrills in political thrillers about such nations A particularly powerful moment is when Oscar the American tourist wakes to the news of 911 The contrast of how it affects him and those on the island such as Lena is striking and he cannot fathom how it can be as if it were any day at all in human history to people there What is brilliantly done here however is that the novel subverts the typical US centric gaze as the event is minor to the lives of those on the island If those people were dying anywhere but in your country Lena confronts him when he is outraged she is going on eating breakfast as if it were any other day would you have cared if I went on eating your scone I bet you wouldn t This may seem harsh but Lena wonders if his parents stopped drinking their coffee for even one second when his government supplied the trucks that round up Olga and thousands of others To shoot them down on the street Novey illuminates a parallel between Victor s public power and position suppressing the voices of his victims and the United States with foreign policy actions such as Operation Condor and implanting neoliberal dictatorship keeping left wing movements silent in their graves to maintain power over oil and mining industries of South America Lena a Marxist is throughout the novel representative of many ways voices are muzzled politically Beyond Victor is her work in public schools and her wealthy family s disdain for it They disbelieve media reports on poor conditions due to lack of funding to be overhyped and that any argument from Lena will be dismissed as propagated or misled regardless of Lena s authority on the subject Lena visits these schools as her job yet her family essentially tells her that what she is experiencing simply is not how things are Her aunts drew the unflattering conclusions about the island s children that they wanted to draw anyways This is gaslighting pure and simple and this refusal to engage in any critical examination for reasons of holding on to power serves only as an oppressive tactic for silencing opponents whose voices badly need to be heard This is psychological warfare and Lena is already victim to uestioning her own reality due to stress What seems to possibly be magical realism of the murdered Maria s clothing showing up in Lena s possession might just actually be coincidence or Lena not noticing things before Novey does well by not taking that plot thread anywhere and instead leaving the reader to uestion reality the way those who are targets of manipulation tend to do Novey keeps the reader in an uncomfortable position for much of this novel but stepping out of our comfort zones is a way we can grow and better understandThis all may paint the novel as fairly bleak but there is a hopeful side to it as well What is particularly charming is the way the novel represents art and literature as a hopeful rebellion Freddy s play for instance chronicles the truth about his brother in an abstract way to cut right to the heart of the matter It is implied near the end especially as Victor is unraveling and his career is in free fall that Freddy is shucking off the fear that is keeping his draft hidden Even if he never produces the play those pages can still be found and bear witness to the awful truths This is also reflected in Olga who keeps a diary of sorts in the store ledger where she talks to her now executed lover a woman only mentioned as S Olga gives a copy of Anna Ahkmatova poetry to a college girl telling her if she can memorize a stanza of the poem Reuiem that she can keep the book for free This literary illusion brings a whole weight of history with it as poets in Ahkmatova s circle during Soviet times would gather and recite each others poetry until every knew the verses by heart The idea was that the authorities could burn the manuscripts or jail and kill the poet such was the fate of Osip Mandelstam but their words would live on in the hearts and minds of their friends Remembering is a form of resistance and the arts are a perfect canvas to place the memories of atrocities for people to know of them in the future Art keeps the fire alive long after the bodies grow cold He wondered what it would take for there to be a true reckoning with the repressive roles men imposed on each other a moment when acting despotic would finally be recognized as the weakness that it was This novel is a bit on the bleak side but this does not subtract from its power and importance Even the hopeful moments near the end with Olga running for local government are acknowledged to likely be met with failure but Novey also makes a point that noble failures slowly chip away at power structures and pave the way for the next person to make progress Those Who Knew packs a lot of necessary social commentary punch on a wide range of topics of power Victor even gets involved in a political scandal involving industrial farming that is hurting the local ecosystem which should draw the reader s attention to issues of the Climate Crisis and the way misinformation and those in places of power try to silence the urgent need for reform and the methods at which keeping checks on power are hindered Fast paced innovative and urgent this book is an incredible statement on power structure and the way they are maintained at the expense of everyone else 4 5

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H 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 relationshipWhy didn't Lena speak up then and will her family's support of the. 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 It s a uick 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 uite as stingy with its light today A few sunbeams punctured the thinning clouds which he hoped was the reason Lena was suinting 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 uiet 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


10 thoughts on “Those Who Knew

  1. says:

    ‘ How did she stay true to the voices in her head as they led her into the fire?’Abuse of power comes in many forms and from many faces It’s easy to recognize it in the actions of your opponents but trickier to swallow when it is from those with whom you share an ideology This becomes another of the many ways abusers keep their victims silent Those Who Knew the second novel from Idra Novey opens with a possible murder of a y

  2. says:

    Those Who Knew is one of the most timely on point works of fiction for this eraWith the opening pages of Idra Novey’s sopho novel Those Who Knew you will be hooked into the story of politics intrigue masculine abuse secrets and li

  3. says:

    While I appreciated this novel's ambition and stylistic difficulty the non linear telling the slipping identities the political plot the elision of place names and the setting in an unnamed Latin American ish island nation I can't say I actually liked the book I actually don't understand what it was about which is to say it was about many things but I have trouble integrating the ideas So I'm surprised at the novel's recent publicity that

  4. says:

    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 pict

  5. says:

    25 rounded upFor much of Novey's sopho novel I was intrigued and reading uickly to find out how all the myriad and provocat

  6. says:

    Such a brilliant book of our now Politics plus figurative and literal political ghosts connect or ensnaring the lives of an

  7. says:

    Idra Novey can write Her prose is beautiful and she plays with stylistic elements to create a wholly uniue reading experience Unfortunately I closed the cover on this nuanced work feeling somewhat confused I got itI think but there was a lot going on not all of which was clear to me I blame me 3 stars

  8. says:

    I consider myself very very lucky that I got to read an early copy of this highly anticipated book I loved Ways to Disappear Novey's second novel enchanted in a different way it made me ponder what we let people get away with and why Political and poetic

  9. says:

    5 out of 5So very much my kind of novel I loved what Novey did with the structure dropping in scenes from plays and clippings from newspapers and I loved the content of the novel itself a propulsive look at toxic masculinity in politics at American intervention in Latin America at the scars we leave behind us that we might not eve

  10. says:

    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 s

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