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Friday, July 1, 2016

‘The Arrangements’: A Work of Fiction

John Cuneo
Dear Reader...
We've got something very different this week in the Book Review. In fact, it's never been done. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has written a short story for us, "The Arrangements," which runs on our cover. This is the first time The New York Times Book Review has ever commissioned an original short story.
Why did we do it? Blame it on politics. Everyone has been saying this election season has been "stranger than fiction." But we wondered: Could fiction somehow illuminate the many unknowns of today's political climate? There's certainly a broad array of characters to work with, from the 17 Republican primary candidates to the larger-than-life Clintons to Bernie Sanders.
We asked Adichie, whose most recent novel, "Americanah," was one of our 10 Best Books of 2013, to start from there, and to write a story about a subject of her choosing as it relates to the current election. We had no idea what she'd come up with – but couldn't be happier with the result. "The Arrangements" offers a very contemporary riff on Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway." With Melania Trump as Clarissa. The illustrator John Cuneo is responsible for the thoroughly entertaining art that accompanies her story.
Wanting to play fair, we've asked another writer to write a story for us on the Clinton side of the election. We're keeping that writer's identity secret for now, but you can look forward to reading the resulting fiction this fall. Our hope is that whatever your political leanings, you'll appreciate having a bit of fun with the election.
Please stay in touch and let us know what you think – whether it's about this newsletter, our reviews, our podcast or what you're reading. We read and ponder all of it. And I write back, if belatedly. You can email me at
Pamela Paul
Editor of The New York Times Book Review
P.S. One last request: If you're a listener of Inside The New York Times Book Review and are willing to give us a few minutes to fill out a survey about our podcast, please go here. We're hugely grateful for your input.

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