Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Rewrites Mrs Dalloway With Donald Trump Twist
In anticipation of the 2016 election, The New York Times Book Review will publish two short works of fiction related to the political candidates. The first of these is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Trump short story, which casts Donald Trump's wife, Melania, as Virginia Woolf's Clarissa Dalloway. I've got a summary and some of the best quotes for you to read below.
Melania Trump was born Melanija Knavs in what is now Yugoslavia. She began modeling as a teenager, and was later associated with Trump Model Management. She and Donald dated for five years before marrying in 2005. The couple have one child, Barron, born 2006.
Woolf's 1925 novel, Mrs Dalloway, provides the framework for Adichie's short story, "The Arrangements." In the novel, a trip to purchase flowers for a party forces Clarissa to confront the choices she made by marrying the conservative Richard Dalloway instead of Peter Walsh, her more passionate, former lover, or Sally, a girl she once kissed, but whose romance she did not pursue.
In "The Arrangements," Melania Trump's encounters with her family and acquaintances provide wry, believable insight into Donald Trump's campaign. Under Adichie's pen, the 46-year-old former model reveals that her marriage to the real estate mogul "came as a relief," following her passionate relationship with her — evidently fictional — ex, Tomaz. Melania fixates on Janelle, her Pilates instructor, whose presence offers Adichie the opportunity to showcase Donald Trump's racism: "Really? I didn’t think they did that Pilates stuff. It’s not like Pilates is hip-hop or whatever."
The most interesting part of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's short story is the revelation that Ivanka Trump — Donald's daughter and de facto campaign wife — may secretly be undermining her father's candidacy by supporting his prejudicial antics.
Where Adichie's Melania finds Ivanka intimidating and enraging, she has a warm relationship with Tiffany Trump, which provides the younger step-daughter with an opportunity to drop a bombshell: Ivanka uses a fake name to funnel money into Hillary Clinton's campaign.
After learning this, it becomes difficult to read Ivanka's agreements with her father, her loose-rein guidance of his campaign, as anything other than quiet sabotage. This is the most glorious part of "The Arrangements," and Adichie leaves us to wonder what will happen when the story closes, as Melania plans to tell Donald what she knows after dinner.
Adichie's short story is chock full of fantastic quotes, and you must go read "The Arrangements" in its entirety. As a preview, here are a few of the best passages.