´Those Who Knew’ by Idra Novey – The Never-Ending Battle Between the Left and the Right


´Those Who Knew’ by Idra Novey    (2018) – 248 pages


´Those Who Knew’ is a modern political drama about the never-ending liberal struggle against homegrown fascism, racism, and oppression.  It takes place on an unnamed island in the South which had been ruled by a ruthless dictator named Cato who had been propped up by a powerful northern country (US?).  A progressive movement, in part led by radical college students, had been successful in ousting Cato several years ago. One of the college student leaders, Victor, is now a Senator and may soon run for President.   

Lena is one of Victor´s ex-girlfriends.  She hears that Victor´s current girlfriend Maria P. has been killed after being run over by a bus.  Lena recalls a time when Victor almost choked her to death in his uncontrolled anger, and now she suspects that Victor perpetrated the death of Maria P.

´Those Who Knew’ is a politically intense and realistic story.  One of its many pleasures is its cast of offbeat characters. There is the elderly radical Olga who is Lena´s best friend and who runs a used bookstore as well as a marijuana business on the side.  There is also Victor´s brother Freddy who is a gay playwright. Lena´s current boyfriend Oscar is from the North and likes to cook meals and desserts for his friends.

The author Idra Novey relies on diverse means of telling her story, and these changes in approach and tone kept this reader enthused.   The chapters are usually very short, and the story is told from the points of view of various characters. Also the narration takes several forms including entries from Olga´s makeshift log and short scenes from Freddy´s plays.  The variety of narrators and narrative forms keeps one interested in the proceedings.  

The progressives here are fighting against the slick well-organized corruption and oppression of the rich and powerful.  The progressives are a motley unruly crew of offbeat individuals, but isn’t that usually the case? Those who believe in personal freedom usually practice personal freedom in their own lives, while the fascists who wish to limit the lives of others usually live limited oppressive lives themselves.

One of the continuing problems for the Left is that some of their own trusted leaders can turn ruthless and authoritarian as they become enamored of their own power. 

The battle between liberalism versus fascism has become more intense as fascism has spread again over large parts of the world.   After World War II, most of the world realized that the next war could destroy life on Earth, so they took moderate steps to prevent that from happening.  However today world leaders seem to have forgotten the 60 million people who were killed in World War II, and now all Hell is breaking loose again.

´Those Who Knew’ takes place on an unnamed island, ¨this fascist-hearted country of ours¨, but this island represents our entire world.


Grade:   A+



2 responses to this post.

  1. This sounds excellent.
    Sometimes, you know, I get quite overwhelmed when I think of the state of affairs today. I saw a man with a swastika on his clothing in our shopping centre a little while ago, and I was thunderstruck that anyone would do that. I rang the police, because I didn’t know what to do but had to do something, and apparently he gets a kick out of travelling the trains to different parts of the city to shock people.
    But the really terrible thing was that most people weren’t shocked…



    • Hi Lisa,
      Minnesota proved itself sharper than many states by totally rejecting Trumpism in the last election. Most people realize by now that the Trumpers are quite an ignorant lot with their vicious racism and their support of a guy who is totally corrupt and lies all the time.

      Being a Trump supporter is like wearing a sign saying, ¨Ï aḿ not very smart.¨. But there are still a crew of know -nothing Trump supporters like your Neo-Nazi in the shopping mall.

      I was reading a bit about Australian politics but stopped when they mentioned ¨the conservative wing of the Liberal party¨. That did not make sense to me.



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