Idra Novey’s THOSE WHO KNEW (out today from Viking) 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 one of the best American novels of 2018.