Melania Trump is lonely and obsessed with Michelle Obama. At least in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s version of events anyway.
The Nigerian author has penned a short story for the The New York Times’ style magazine, T, which paints the first lady—referred to throughout only as “Mrs T”—as the reluctant wife of the president who displays an unease with her political fame. And she’s a little bit racist, too.
Adichie’s “micronovel,” Janelle Asked to the Bedroom, envisions a conversation between a forlorn Trump and her pilates instructor Janelle. The story was published on the Times website and on the T magazine Instagram page.
In the short story, Janelle is unusually called to join Mrs T in her bedroom, rather than her home gym, and is surprised to find the first lady looking “disheveled, her manner distracted.”
Adichie's fictional account also portrays Trump as envious of her predecessor’s natural ease in the role of first lady. Mrs T shows Janelle a video she’s been watching on YouTube of Michelle Obama visiting a classroom. She also reveals a folder full of pictures of Obama on her laptop. “Look at this. I always look at them for the inspiration,” she says.
In this fictional world, Mrs T’s only source of joy comes from her 11-year-old son, Barron. The first lady perks up speaking to her son, who is described as “sweetly shy and polite, dependent on his mother for his sense of self.”
But Adichie’s imagined Trump also exhibits a casual racism that her husband, President Donald Trump, is often accused of sharing.
Mrs T makes a prejudicial remark when Janelle informs her that her son has been accepted to Harvard University. “He got scholarship to go?” she asks. “How automatic, this assumption of a scholarship, and Janelle knew she meant a scholarship not of smarts but of skin,” writes Adichie.
Janelle Asked to the Bedroom follows an earlier, pre-election short story by Adichie, The Arrangements, also written for the Times.
In that story, published in June 2016, Trump quietly doubts her husband’s chances of winning the presidency. It also depicts a strained relationship between her and Donald Trump’s children from previous marriages, particularly Ivanka Trump, whose close relationship with her husband she envies.
Adichie’s other published novels include Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah. The celebrated feminist author received a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2008.
Read Janelle Asked to the Bedroom below: