Chimamanda Adichie On Melania Trump, Michelle Obama, and Writing Across Culture

Americanah author and Beyoncé’s feminist influence Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, recently in the news for her foray into literary fiction about the Trump women, answered reader questions at the Guardian today. Here are a few of her choicest tidbits.

On writing the Trump women:

 I imagined [Ivanka] as a character who loves her father and, knowing him to be pathologically needy, makes a show of supporting him while secretly supporting the candidate she truly believes is the better candidate. So I thought of using Melania as a foil of sorts for Ivanka. I also just wanted to write a story in which it’s the women in his life who have agency and are full of their own personal motivations.

On Michelle Obama’s hair:

I actually do not wish Michelle Obama had natural hair because then Barack Obama would not have won the elections and what a loss that would have been to the world. When her daughters were younger, they were viciously attacked because their hair was twisted.

On whether a white man should write fiction about his own experiences or those of a young Bengali girl:

I think the first question is: WHY do you want to write about a young Bengali girl? There are still wonderful stories to be told about 50-year-old white men. If it is feeling unsurmountable, perhaps that’s a sign.

And a follow-up questioner who wondered why Adichie was boosting the idea of white dudes writing about their own experiences:

It’s unfortunate that you seem to assume that if a white middle aged man doesn’t write about a Bengali girl, then the story of Bengali girls will not be written. There are in fact many Bengalis who can write about Bengali girls – and it probably doesn’t feel ‘insurmountable’ to them.

Read the entire Q&A for more details about Adichie’s own novels, her home country of Nigeria, feminism, motherhood and her thoughts on her role as both an artist and an activist.