Thursday 21 September 2023 – Monocle Minute

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Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World is the latest book by award-winning Canadian author, activist and film-maker Naomi Klein. Since her debut in 1999 with the wildly popular No Logo, Klein has regularly featured on lists of the world’s most influential people. Here, she tells Monocle about her ninth book: a deep dive into the world of conspiracy theories, anti-vaxxers, wellness influencers and far-right campaigners.

What drew you to the idea of the doppelganger?
The word is German in origin and literally means “double walker”. Some people believe that we all have one and that we might one day bump into them and find ourselves looking into a living mirror. For more than 10 years people would mix me up online with [writer and conspiracy theorist] Naomi Wolf and they would get angry at me for positions I didn’t have. Both of us were writing about the US government but while my books featured covert US government programmes overthrowing democratically elected democracies – all based on declassified documents and sources – she would write about George W Bush planning a coup within the US. That’s when things began to get blurry and people started confusing us.

In a way, your new book is about your personal brand and how it differs from Naomi Wolf’s. Isn’t that ironic, given the themes of your first book, ‘No Logo’?
Frankly, I thought it was pretty funny, as No Logo took aim at branding companies. The thing about doppelganger stories is that you think that you’re confronting the other but you’re always ultimately confronting yourself. There are many examples of literary protagonists who start to confront their doppelgangers but end up confronting themselves. If it’s a violent confrontation, as in the story of Dorian Gray stabbing his own painting, they die.

What did you discover by exploring this concept?
One of the things that I liked about this book is that it’s not about Naomi Wolf. Though parts of it look at how she has changed over the years and explore what that tells us about broader shifts in our society, what I liked about this concept of the doppelganger is that it’s a device with a narrow aperture through which you can look at a lot of different things, such as who we can trust, who anybody is and what can be counted on.

To listen to the full interview with Naomi Klein, tune in to the latest episode of ‘Meet the Writers’ on Monocle Radio.

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