Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes story about Donald Trump's wife Melania

The Arrangements, which is also a homage to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, imagines what life is like for the presidential candidate’s wife

The Orange prize-winning novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has published a short story about the US election, written from the perspective of Donald Trump’s wife Melania, in which she muses that “what he found unbearable was to be ignored”.

Appearing in the New York Times Book Review, which asked the Nigerian novelist to write a short story about the presidential race, The Arrangements is also a homage to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway.

“Melania decided she would order the flowers herself,” writes Adichie, as her version of the candidate’s wife prepares for a party. Woolf’s novel, about Clarissa Dalloway’s preparations for a party and her musings about her life and relationships, opens with the line: “Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Photograph: Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters

Adichie imagines a relationship between Melania and Donald where he copies and pastes his tweets into text messages to her, and tells her to have her breasts “fixed”.

“When he got up from bed, she looked at his pale, slack belly, and the sprinkle of bristly hair on his back,” writes Adichie, who has Melania remember her intense – fictional – ex-partner Tomaz, who “walked the world in an existential haze of disapproval”. Melania also considers her feelings for her Pilates instructor, Janelle. “Melania wanted to reach out and taste her – the smooth skin of her arm, her full, ­brownish-pink lips,” she writes, after Trump makes a dismissively racist comment about the instructor. “Really? I didn’t think they did that Pilates stuff. It’s not like Pilates is hip-hop or whatever.”

In Adichie’s version of reality, Ivanka Trump – “whom Donald showed off like a glowing modern toy that he did not know how to operate” – secretly donates money to Hillary Clinton and quietly sabotages her father’s campaign.

Later, the novelist writes of Trump’s reaction to his success: “He still did not entirely believe this was happening – his lead in the polls, the new veneer of being taken seriously … There were days when every television channel she switched to had his image on the screen. They did not understand that what he found unbearable was to be ignored, and for this she was grateful, because being in the news brought Donald the closest he could be to contentment.”

The New York Times will be publishing a second work of “election fiction” by a different writer before the US presidential election on 8 November.


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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