Those Who Knew
Nov. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9780525560432. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780525560449. F

The personal is political in Novey’s novel which takes place on an unnamed island popular with volunteer tourists from the United States. Lena discovers a sweater in her handbag that belonged to a dead, possibly murdered, student activist named Maria P. Does the sweater really belong to Maria P.? Did Lena’s ex-boyfriend, Victor, the popular and populist politician murder Maria? Victor is on the cusp of a politically advantageous marriage. He has a history of violence that Lena experienced first hand when they were student activists. But unlike Maria, Lena came from money. Her family had ties to the oligarchy that ran the island during her revolutionary days. And she survived. Lena wants justice for Maria but is haunted by her instead.

VERDICT : While Lena is the novel’s primary focus the novel shifts point of view and perspective. By focusing on the characters and their interconnected and very personal stories Novey negotiates the surreal reality of an aging port city both victim and beneficiary of globalization. Highly recommended for readers of literary fiction and books by and about Latin America.

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