Naomi Klein: it's harder for women to be taken seriously as experts

Naomi Klein with the Women’s Prize for Non Fiction trophy (PA Wire)
Naomi Klein with the Women’s Prize for Non Fiction trophy (PA Wire)

Canadian author Naomi Klein has won the inaugural Women’s Prize for Non Fiction. Her book, Doppelganger, centres around a mix up which has plagued her for years: being mistaken for Naomi Wolf, the controversial author and Right-wing conspiracy theorist.

In her acceptance speech, Klein told the audience that someone had been going around London tearing down posters with her face on them. “The weird thing was I didn’t know what had angered them, I didn’t know if it was what I had written about vaccine misinformation, what I had written about Zionism, climate change or fossil free books,” she said, thanking the Women’s Prize for “not shying away from controversy”.

Naomi Wolf also happened to be in London last week and described it as “a globalist parking lot” with “no sign of British culture” in a post on Twitter. “For the record London, I think you are gorgeous,” wrote Klein in response.

We caught up with Klein after her win. “I think the arts are really starved and are kind of under siege right now, so it’s really nice to be part of something where they’re building something new,” she said. “It’s more difficult for women to be taken seriously as experts, as opposed to as storytellers, so it’s very cool that they’ve decided to do a non-fiction prize for women”.

The Women’s Prize was co-founded by author Kate Mosse, who told us that Doppelganger resonated with her for obvious reasons. But other than a few interview mix-ups, sharing a name with the world’s most famous supermodel is a broadly positive experience. “She’s wonderful, she’s clever, she’s a brilliant businessperson, and she has negotiated the world on her own terms,” Mosse said of Moss.

There have even been some plus sides, like the time Mosse went for dinner at a fancy restaurant in New York with her American agent, who happens to be called George Lucas (but did not direct Star Wars). “As we walked in there were hordes of photographers and we were shown to this amazing table,” Mosse said. Someone in the kitchen had seen their names on the reservations and tipped off the paparazzi, who did then “slink off” after they realised the mistake.