SHORTLISTED for the International Booker Prize 2022
After Rita is found dead in a church she used to attend, the official investigation into the incident is quickly closed. Her sickly mother is the only person still determined to find the culprit. Chronicling a difficult journey across the suburbs of the city, an old debt and a revealing conversation, Elena Knows unravels the secrets of its characters and the hidden facets of authoritarianism and hypocrisy in our society.
Argentine novelist Pi eiro (Thursday Night Widows) delivers a poignant story of a 63-year-old woman in search of answers about her daughter's death. Elena suffers from severe Parkinson's and has been unable to collect evidence proving that Rita's death was not a suicide. Rita's body was found at the top of their church's bell tower, where Elena believes she would never have gone willingly because of her fear of lightning. (As Elena explains to her neighbors, Rita would skip mass whenever it rained, "because she was more afraid of lightning than of the double offense she was committing by lying and not going to mass.") Elena can also see no reason why Rita, her caretaker, would kill herself, as Rita was devoutly religious and had condemned abortion and other "sins" as part of her Catholic faith. This assuredness rapidly crumbles after Elena travels to the center of Buenos Aires to visit Isabel, a woman Rita had tried to help 20 years earlier. Using Elena's medication regimen as a structure certain pills help her regain control of a body otherwise unresponsive to her will the novel offers a lyrical portrait of a woman unable to grieve, along with incisive commentary on Catholic society's control of women's bodies. This mystery proves deeply satisfying.
Such a pertinent and poignant story cloaked in the veils of a mystery that makes you want to finish it in one go. Touches on so many current issues - relationships, old age, caregiving, religion, and the meaning of life itself.