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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie officially has a new hobby: fictionalizing the Trumps. Last year, her much-discussed short story, “The Arrangements,” in The New York Times Book Review, focused on Donald Trump but is told from the perspective of his wife, Melania Trump. This month, she has another Trump Story in The New York Times. Titled “Janelle Asked to the Bedroom,” the story focuses entirely on Melania Trump. It was first published on the magazine’s Instagram, and then on their Website as a “micronovel.” Um…is this from a forthcoming novel, an excerpt in disguise?

Here is an excerpt.

Janelle was surprised when the butler asked her to come up to the bedroom. He looked disapproving, stiffly leading the way upstairs, as though he thought her unworthy to be allowed anywhere farther than the lowest floor where the gym was.

Janelle followed him through the apartment; there was gold everywhere, on the floors and armchairs and edges of walls, that gave the décor a sallow ugliness. It felt to Janelle like an oblivious person’s idea of a wealthy home. She knew the butler expected her to be impressed — he had the sly arrogance of a blindly loyal servant — and for a moment she wanted to burst into laughter. She would not live here if she were paid to. Imagine waking everyday to such crass cheerlessness.

With a sigh in his manner, clearly wishing Mrs. T had not made this unusual request, he knocked on the bedroom door. It, too, was edged in gold. He waited to hear “come in” before ushering Janelle in, and then he lingered a moment, as if he might need to protect Mrs. T.

But Mrs. T waved him away. She was propped against a hundred pillows cradling her laptop.

Mrs. T had changed after her husband won the election. A great lonely sadness had settled on her, stiffening her shoulders and spine. Her Pilates suffered. Simple moves she had fluidly done before failed her: Her back would not flatten doing the hundreds, her legs would not point to the sky. Week after week, Janelle saw the heaviness of her spirit, the purplish bags under her eyes, the way her English worsened and slurred from fatigue.

But today was different. Mrs. T had, until now, never let go of that carefulness that seemed to Janelle a product of being the wrong kind of European, a knowingness, a determination never to be found out. Which perhaps was why she hardly drank and why she spoke of drugs with disdain. But today she looked disheveled, her manner distracted. Was she on something? Had she cracked and taken pills? She seemed like a ravaged flightless bird, and the bed’s carved gold headboard part of an open cage that she inexplicably could not leave.

“Is everything O.K.?” Janelle asked, still standing, her professional face pleasantly blank, her voice even. “If you don’t feel up to it today, we can reschedule for tomorrow.”

“Please sit down,” Mrs. T said.

Janelle remained standing. Of course she had noticed Mrs. T’s overtures over the past months, the lost longing in Mrs. T’s eyes, the tentative invitations. Would you like a glass of juice, Janelle? Do you know a person good in massage, Janelle? You are always in a rush to leave, Janelle. But they had happened less and less since her husband won, as though her sadness had overpowered her longing. And Janelle wasn’t sure what this was about, being asked into this room with its dense carpet and wide bed, but she would entertain no crap.

Read the full story HERE.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, an academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017), for which he was shortlisted. His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. His conversations appear in Africa in Dialogue, Bakwa, SPRINNG, and Dwartonline. He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, Enter Naija: The Book of Places (October 2016), focuses on Nigerian cities. The second, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (June 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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