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Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Creative nonfiction query help

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message 1: by Eugene (new)

Eugene Polonsky | 15 comments Would love feedback on the following query:

October, 1989. Zhenya is a twelve year old Jewish refugee from the collapsing Soviet Union. He and his family just landed in Rome after a hard month in Vienna. They are bound for America.
The Polonsky family is given seven days to find a place to live, and then they’re on their own until the asylum application gets approved. That may take weeks or months, and Zhenya’s family must make a home in an unfamiliar country with no money, knowledge of the language, or marketable skills. They must survive the wait, and at times it’s touch-and-go.
Their asylum application takes six months to approve. During this time Zhenya’s father has a run-in with the Russian mafia, and what little money they saved up is stolen. Zhenya becomes the primary supporter of the family, washing windshields on street intersections of Rome. Meanwhile he falls in love, has a Bar Mitzvah, and nearly blows his hand off playing with unexploded fireworks.
Six months in Ladispoli, 82k words, is a creative nonfiction memoir. It will appeal to readers of Wonder and The Kite Runner.



Thanks!


message 2: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments Other than needing to be sure you check the formatting in a plain text document before you send it (and send it as plain text! many email viewers will mangle your formatting otherwise), nothing leaps out at me as problematic.


message 3: by Cate (new)

Cate Wells | 11 comments I think you're kind of burying the lede. You've organized this chronologically, and coincidentally, the more mundane or typical aspects of the experience (the layover in Rome, the wait, the more universal and therefore familiar-to-the-reader challenges of not knowing the language, etc.). You save the details that make this story stand out from others like it for the third paragraph.

The parts that make me want to read more are the Russian mafia run-in, windshield washing, falling in love, fireworks.

Could you re-organize this so it's not chronological? You could start it "Rome, 1989." Lead with the captivating details. In the second paragraph, you could do a "this is the story of" to fill in the facts.

Hope this helps. The work sounds totally charming.

Cate


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