The image here was the first, rudimentary sketch of Lydia by Su Koh. It is nicely loaded with ambiguity and foreboding. Ambiguity of identity is central to the whole novel. This is conveyed in the name of I Am Not Gog’s protagonist, Lydia Japhethson.
There has been much speculation as to who the original Gog of Magog were and where their homeland was. I found the most commonly accepted location was somewhere in western Asia Minor, or stone age Anatolia, as it then was. At the time of Ezekiel’s prophecy about Gog of Magog, it had long been the empire of Lydia, which lasted 1200–546 BC. Ezekiel lived 622–570 BC.
It’s important to bear in mind that a tribe (or two) coming from the Lydian empire does not represent the whole of that empire. It doesn’t mean the Lydian empire is Gog of Magog. So, in bearing the name Lydia, this character is associated with that wider area, not necessarily Gog of Magog. She could equally turn out to be Gog of Magog as not. It is worth pointing out in passing that Lydia was conquered by Alexander the Great and remained a satrapy until his death. A pleasing happenstance from our perspective.
Also by chance, the main real-life person on which I based her character was called Linda, which is very similar to Lydia, so it was an easy transition for me in imagining her anew. That’s her first name dealt with.
One of Noah’s three sons is called Japheth, and one of Japheth’s seven sons is called Magog. The name Japhethson associates Lydia with any one of seven sons. Similarly to the above point about the Lydian empire, she could equally be of Magog or not. Mathematically, she’s got a one in seven chance of being of Magog. As someone who is identified as Gog of Magog by an untrustworthy character in the story (Alex), her name tells us she could be, but very well might not be.
For centuries people have taken Ezekiel’s prophecy to be speaking to their own times and so speculated who might be a contemporary Gog of Magog. During the Cold War, westerners commonly thought it might be Russia. The basic criteria for fitting the bill, beyond just choosing your favourite bogeyman, is they have to come from ‘the north’, be in league with several other countries, and be causing a lot of trouble.
In the story, Lydia Japhethson is identified as being Gog by Alex and is compelled to behave as a ‘Gog’ down the line. But is she really Gog? If she isn’t, who is? And what does that person (or people) represent allegorically in our world? As the title of the story suggests, Lydia herself rejects being identified as Gog, but is she right to? Who does she represent in our world? UMDIP?
One thing I can tell you categorically: UMDIP, as it is commonly understood, is not Gog.
*[This is an acronym for the target of the novel’s allegory, an Unnamed Modern-Day International Phenomenon, which should never be publicly named because that would be a major spoiler.]