Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been an integral voice in today's modern feminist movement and so it's not surprising to learn she has a thing or two to say about Melania and Ivanka Trump. Adichie recently shared her thoughts about Melania and Ivanka with Vulture, revealing that while her feelings about the president's eldest daughter have changed, she still sees "sadness" when she looks at the first lady.
"I look at pictures of her, and I see great sadness," Adichie told Vulture in reference to Melania. "I don't want anyone to be sad, but the idea that she might be sad about her situation is almost comforting because it reminds you that there's still some sort of humane presence in the private space of the White House."
Although Adichie wasn't able to put a name on her feelings for the first lady, she told the entertainment outlet there was "something" she felt about her that "lives in the same emotional space as compassion and pity."
"That feeling has increased," the author said.
In 2016, the New York Times Book Review commissioned Adichie to write something (anything she wanted to be exact) about the 2016 presidential election. As a work of fiction, The Arrangements examines the Trumps through Melania's experience in a form and style heavily influenced by Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs Dalloway. But while The Arrangements focused on Melania's perspective, Adichie told Vulture she'd felt the story to be more about Ivanka when she was writing it.
"I saw the story as making a case for how he [President Trump] is unstable but is surrounded by people who are stable and reasonable, such as his daughter and his wife," Adichie said. "There was also a very feminist take to the story's premise, which was that the women around him know what they’re dealing with. There’s a kind of knowingness in dealing with somebody they care about but understand is crazy."
In The Arrangements, Adichie humanizes Ivanka, writing her as a woman who is both manipulative and internally conflicted as evidenced by her secret donations to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Shortly after The Arrangements was published by the Times, Adichie told the Huffington Post she thought Ivanka seemed to be "really intelligent, thoughtful, reasonable."
"I just imagine that she doesn't really believe her father is the right choice for the U.S.," the author said at the time. "It's entirely possible ― and I think this is true for many people ― to love a member of your family, completely, and feel loyal to them while at the same time recognizing that they're not particularly good at something." Adichie went on to say she understood how Ivanka's "love and loyalty" for her family would ultimately make her "protective" of her father.
But it seems as if Adichie's opinion of Ivanka has changed over the course of the last two years. "I've since changed my mind about his daughter," she recently confided in Vulture. "She doesn't seem reasonable like we thought she might [be] — not at all. For a character, you need something ambiguous to work with, and Ivanka doesn't have that for me anymore."
This wasn't the first time the bestselling Nigerian author has spoken out about her shift of opinion regarding Ivanka. In May 2017, Adichie told Chatelaine she found the president's daughter offensive. "Ivanka Trump going out there, defending her father, telling us that he really does care for women — it's offensive to me. It really is," she said. "On the one hand, you know, I can see how she would love her father. What is troubling is the excusing of things I think are inexcusable."