About the Book:
Starting at a prestigious private Australian girls’ school, fifteen-year-old Ziggy Klein is confronted with an alienating social hierarchy that hurls her into the arms of her grade’s most radical feminists. Plagued by fantasies of offensive sexual stereotypes and a psychotherapist mother who thinks bum-pinching is fine if it comes from the heart chakra, Ziggy sets off on a journey of self-discovery that moves from the Sydney drag scene to the extremist underbelly of the internet to the coastal bohemia of a long-dissolved matriarchal cult.
As PC culture collides with her friends’ morphing ideology and her parents’ kinky sex life, Ziggy’s understanding of gender, race, and class begins to warp. Ostracised at school, she seeks refuge in Donna Haraway’s seminal feminist text, A Cyborg Manifesto, and discovers an indisputable alternative identity. Or so she thinks. A controversial Indian guru, a mean clique of blondes all called Cate, and her own Holocaust-surviving grandmother propel Ziggy through a series of misidentifications, culminating in a date-rape revenge plot so confused, it just might work.
Inappropriation is quite an unusual novel, the style of which is best described as literary satire. I’ve definitely never read anything like it before. It felt to me like an amalgamation of Southpark, J’aime Private School Girl, and Black Comedy. I was torn between laughing at the acerbic wit and cringing at the inappropriateness of it all. Which was kind of the point of the novel.
Ziggy swings from one identity crisis to another, constantly weirding people out while misinterpreting everything. She was overly consumed with her own sexual identity, her gender identity, her political identity, her feminist identity, her Jewish identity, her human identity, and her lack of friends – the latter of which could be explained in large part by the fact that she wore a go pro permanently strapped to her head, recording everyone and uploading the videos to the internet without permission. There was a lot going on with Ziggy, a kind of strange exaggeration of what teenagers might be going through as they come of age in a society that is overwhelmingly focussed on ‘isms’, self-labelling, and the avoidance of offending people by means of going out of your way to offend people.
Inappropriation is sharp and clever, perhaps a shade too much so at times because it’s a very busy book and I often lost track of what was actually going on in amongst the sea of acidic observation. To my mind, there was too much of a focus on sexuality throughout the entire novel, and one scene in particular involving Ziggy and her younger brother’s friends, who were all thirteen, was way too icky for me. Ziggy pushes the envelope a bit too far on many occasions, sometimes with remorse, at other times with startling self-gratification. This is a discomforting read, on so many levels, but also decidedly on point at times.
Inappropriation is really a novel you will need to judge for yourself. I neither liked nor disliked it, but I do acknowledge that Lexi Freiman makes some valid points via her sharp observations and snappy scenes of introspection and dialogue. It’s a bold novel, certainly not for everyone, but I have no doubt it will at some stage be labelled a cult classic. I do think it would make a brilliant film.
Thanks is extended to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of Inappropriation for review.
About the Author:
Lexi Freiman is an Australian author and editor who graduated from Columbia’s MFA program in 2012. She has been a recipient of the NYC Emerging Writer’s Fellowship, an Aspen Words scholarship, and has published fiction in The Literary Review. Before moving to New York in 2010, Lexi worked as an actress for several years with the Bell Shakespeare Company, performing in As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, and Pericles, all at the Sydney Opera House. She lives in Manhattan.
Published by Allen & Unwin
Released on 1st August 2018
Available in Paperback and eBook