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Elena Knows

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Yes, Elena had a difficult relationship with her daughter Rita. Rita is her main caretaker. What they say to each other is painful. When Rita dies, Elena is hellbent on proving that Rita did not kill herself. She tells anyone who will listen that Elena loved Rita and Rita loved her. It may not have appeared that way, but they did love each other. The rights to bodily autonomy become even more pronounced in the jaw-dropping final section of this novel. Claudia Piñeiro has been a prominent activist for abortion rights in Argentina, which did not legalize until December of 2020, and Elena Knows becomes a powerful look at the lives of those denied options facing a pregnancy not only against their will but from an act of violence and degredation. Dr. Kate Manne has written extensively on bodily control of women, particularly in her book Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women where she examines how misogyny is used to police women’s bodies and also demonize any who reject a patriarchal control:

She wonders why she says she has Parkinson’s when she doesn’t have it, it’s the last thing she want to have. She suffers it, she curses it, but she doesn’t have it, having it implies a desire to keep something close, and she desires no such thing.” chapter 2, section III. With that rotten personality you’ll never be happy. What’s inherited can’t be stole, Mom, Is that so, Elena responded, and they fell silent.” chapter 2, section I. reflective mother/daughter relationship [although very compelling- it didn’t ‘personally’ kill me, as did “Cold Enough For Snow”, by Jessica Au] The Hummingbird by Sandro Veronesi, translated by Elena Pala, is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

Translated from Spanish (Argentina) by Frances Riddle (Charco Press, 2021)

People like your daughter, who didn’t even know me, your daughter who didn’t have the nerve to become a mother herself but who treated my body as if it were hers to use, just like you, today, you didn’t come here to settle a debt but to commit the same crime all over again twenty years later. You came here to use my body.” chapter 2, section III.

I have always been fascinated with okapis because they look like made-up animals, or creatures assembled in a drunken stupor,” says 48-year-old Leky, speaking from her flat in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg. “This novel was similar: I wanted to bring together parts that didn’t necessarily feel like they belonged together.” As with the very best crime fiction, her novels often feature incisive social and historical scrutiny. Her third novel for adults, Elena Knows, is a perfect example: a complex character study of three women affected by their society’s oppressive rules, within a murder mystery. Elena, an elderly woman with Parkinson’s disease, is investigating the death of her daughter, who has been found dead in a church belfry. The case has been hastily closed and deemed a suicide, but Elena is convinced it was murder.Ito’s career as a journalist prevented her from staying silent, she says; if she couldn’t face the truth of what had happened to her, how could she continue her work? “It has been difficult, but rape is visible now. We see more cases in the media, we’ve had demonstrations in Tokyo and in many other cities. I have no regrets.” David McNeill The musical quality of the novel is key – the story races along with the pace of a song or a poem, punctuated by the repeated line “My name is Fatima Daas”. It deliberately reads as if being spoken aloud – in contrast to the “absolute silence” the character grows up in. Daas says it was a way for her to say, as a novelist: “I exist, I am, I love, I want”. How do you view people missing the anger and insults after a death? What does it mean to you to miss the difficulties of a relationship alongside the love of a relationships? How does the current Russian government’s response compare? “In 1939, with the help of the NKVD, the epidemic was avoided. In 2020, it failed,” she says. “But we do not know which is more dangerous for humankind: the plague or the secret police.” Matthew Janney

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