- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Viking (November 6, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525560432
- ISBN-13: 978-0525560432
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Those Who Knew: A Novel Hardcover – November 6, 2018
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From the Publisher
An Amazon Best Book of November 2018: When a senator’s aide is literally hit by a bus, Lena is suspicious. Years ago, she was smitten with the same politician, back when they were both young activists fighting the repressive regime of an unnamed island country—but a sudden act of violence brought their budding romance to an unceremonious end. Is he responsible for the aide’s death as well? And is Lena complicit after staying silent about what he did to her? Idra Novey’s Those Who Knew has a ripped-from-the-headlines quality, and despite the fact that you’ll likely be able to guess the ending as easily as a Law & Order episode, she does a deft job of mining the payoffs, and pitfalls, of speaking truth to power. A timely, insightful, and satisfying read. —Erin Kodicek, Amazon Book Review
Named a must-read book by * The Washington Post * O, The Oprah Magazine * Entertainment Weekly * New York Magazine * Vulture * TIME * BBC * Nylon * Refinery29 * The Huffington Post * New York Observer * The Millions * Poets & Writers * The Rumpus * LitHub * Bustle * Read It Forward * MyDomaine * Dandelion Chandelier *
An American Booksellers Association Indie Next Pick
“By turns brutal, funny, and tender . . . During what are arguably our own Terrible Years, with truth and justice blurred nearly every day, Those Who Knew is as urgent as a ticking time bomb.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“There’s timely and then there’s timely. In this prescient novel, a powerful, corrupt senator may finally atone for his crimes when a woman close to him winds up dead. But who can bring him down?”
“Novey—a poet and translator as well as a novelist—is a skillful wordsmith with descriptions that are poetic yet never overwrought . . . Those Who Knew is not only an important book about silence and its consequences, but also a sheer pleasure to read.”
—The Washington Post
“The explosive novel everyone should be reading this fall.”
—New York Observer
“A bold and timely novel.”
“Compelling . . . Novey, a writer, poet and translator, began work on the book long before the #MeToo movement, but her examination of power, misogyny, and complicity often feels uncannily salient.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“In this provocative, beautifully written novel, Idra Novey explores timely issues—the cost of speaking up versus the cost of staying silent—with an insight and clarity that are altogether timeless.”
“This timely thriller examines the power influential men hold over women.”
“Those Who Knew is the book you need in a culture that routinely hears—and ignores—public figures’ historical treatment of women. In addition to being timely, it’s simply superb.”
“Utterly, painfully, of our time . . . Novey reveals the extent of our connections to one another, and the true reach of a person's actions—how they can ripple out so much farther than they'd imagined.”
“Those Who Knew is engaging and elusive . . . It's a dreamy, enchanting, and sometimes terrifying novel about resistance, long-held traumas, and identity.”
“The second novel by the poet-translator, whose debut, Ways to Disappear, put her on a short list of boundary-busting young mystery authors, works in a dash of dystopia, untangling the dark history of a progressive senator ten years after the fall of a dictatorship.”
“Propulsive . . . chillingly timely.”
“Almost exactly a year after the Me Too floodgates opened, this novel takes a closer look at the fallout of a powerful figure’s abuse.”
“Poet-turned-novelist Idra Novey's new book is set on an unnamed island country 10 years after the collapse of a U.S.-supported regime. Lena suspects that a powerful senator she used to be involved with is taking advantage of another young woman—and when that woman turns up dead, Lena must revisit her turbulent relationship with the senator.”
“One of the most poignant books published this year, Idra Novey’s Those Who Knew traces the crimes committed by a powerful man in a time of political upheaval on a fictional island that feels all too real. Named a must-read book by the likes of Vulture, HuffPost, and O, the Oprah Magazine, Those Who Knew undoubtedly belongs on your bookshelf this season.”
“From the award-winning author of Ways to Disappear (a smart novel we absolutely love) comes a new tale about what a powerful politician thinks he can get away with, and the group of misfits who finally bring him down. . . . An exploration of the cost of staying silent and the mixed rewards of speaking up in a profoundly divided country.”
“Those Who Knew speaks with uncommon prescience to the swirl around us. Novey writes, with acuity and depth, about questions of silence, power, and complicity. The universe she has created is imagined, and all too real.”
—Rebecca Traister, author of All the Single Ladies
“There’s an urgent timeliness to this story of the crimes committed by a powerful man, but Idra Novey’s riveting, formally brilliant novel transcends any particular moment. Those Who Knew is a devastating inquiry into the way lofty ideals can serve as cover for brutal impulses, the way struggles for control of the body politic wreak havoc on actual bodies. Most of all, it’s an indictment, at once fierce and compassionate, of the collective silence that implicates us all in irrevocable wrongs.”
—Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
“Genius. That’s what I kept thinking as I read this novel that somehow combines an invented island, a political bookstore, fragments of a stage production, and a story that's at once a damning critique of craven self-interest and a tale about our inescapable connectedness. Idra Novey has written an irreverent, magical, perfect puzzle of a book.”
—Cristina Henriquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans
“Those Who Knew is a beautiful novel about that which we cannot deny, in ourselves or others, and the price we are too often willing to pay for what we think is like freedom.”
—Alexander Chee, author of Queen of the Night
“Novey’s writing is so singularly vibrant . . . Dreamy and jarring and exceedingly topical.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Propulsive . . . Novey’s storytelling is taut and her diction sharp . . . The book [has a] striking sense of momentum. Add in a slight and intriguing sense of the supernatural, and the result is a provocative novel that has the feel of a thriller.”
“The personal is political in this new novel from Novey. . . . By concentrating on the interconnected and very personal stories of each [character], Novey negotiates the surreal reality of an aging port city that is both victim and beneficiary of globalization. . . . Highly recommended.”
“Riveting . . . Novey’s prescient novel explores the cost of speaking up—and the sometimes larger cost of staying silent.”
“Tight and captivating . . . Novey exercises her considerable talents in crafting lush, riveting threads, which she braids into a spectacular crime novel.”
“Novey creates a landscape in which her characters may represent, or sometimes hide, their nation, class, or station in life. Yet her women overcome such barriers and join together, revealing what they know in order to effect change . . . a modern parable.”
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Showing 1-3 of 12 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
“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 one of the best American novels of 2018.
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.