“Those Who Knew” and the Fiction of Political Realities

Though it’s largely set in an unnamed Latin American nation, Idra Novey’s new novel Those Who Knew abounds with moments that will sound familiar to readers in the United States. There’s a seemingly-idealistic male political candidate whose upstanding veneer conceals bleaker impulses; there’s the fact that said candidate’s treatment of women places him one potential scandal away from (justifiable) ruin. Novey’s novel abounds with legislators compromised by their ties to industry, artists from the upper class relentlessly mocking the foibles of the wealthy, and a landscape in which the political and the intimately personal are inexorably connected.

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