Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 17:46 p.m. EDT, 23 January 2014
Agents interested in projects similar to Malika Oufkir’s Stolen Lives will see the potential in marketing my first novel, The Bahari Paradox. This book project grapples with perseverance, survival, and the triumph of a woman journeying to realize her full potential.
Synopsis: She teeters on the top railing of her balcony certain she could jump to her death but unsure as to whether or not she should. Yes, she could end it all; splatter herself and her unborn infant across the asphalt boardwalk below. She envisioned how tourists would scream and retirees relaxing and sunbathing on balconies beneath her would be frozen with shock and fear as her brown pregnant body plummeted to the ground like a dark comet descending from the heavens.
No one in her life would know and perhaps not even care what she'd done. Her husband is missing. Her ordained Baptist mother is estranged. Her younger sister is emotionally distant. Her radical Islamist father lives a continent away. The coroner would scrape a broken, spiritless body from the concrete only to discover there is nowhere to send her remains.
Trying to summon her courage as her toes flirt with the end of the precipice, she remembers a stretch of sand along the Indian Ocean called Bahari Beach -- the last enchanting place she'd experienced, the last place she truly felt alive. Memories wash over her like crystal blue waves, salty, sharp, and sweet.
She recalled a puzzling series of childhood events that occurred in rapid succession: her father joining a radical sect within the Nation of Islam, hastily exiting theas the daughter of an Anti-American, expatriate on the run, traveling cross-continent in a Peugeot 504 wagon from West Africa to East Africa; miraculously surviving a particularly virulent strain of cerebral malaria, and finally escaping back to America with her mother and sister after years in exile—free at last from the torment of the domestic violence inflicted upon them by an abusive, tyrannical father.
She returns to America culturally fragmented and psychologically fragile. Failing in her efforts at acculturation and re-integration with her peers, her mother sent her away to a wildness camp hopefully to heal. While there she is sexually assaulted by an older counselor and begins a downward slide into an alternate lifestyle. Here too she begins to hitchhike up and down the east coast and eventually meets and starts a thankfully brief relationship with a Native American biker the summer before starting her freshman year at college.
With high hopes for living a more stable existence, she enters a small New England college to which she has been awarded an academic scholarship. Unbeknownst to her she is pregnant. Isolated and feeling victimized after opting for a late-term abortion, she could not focus on her course work and the additional emotional distress resulted in failing grades and a year-long sabbatical.
She returns to DC thinking a fresh environment might help her to leave behind some of the demons with which she was wrestling. Here she meets her first husband, a white American with a secret heroin addiction which was revealed when she unexpected found him ‘shooting up’ in the bathroom. A bloody fight ensued, reminiscent of those between her father and mother. This devastating turn of events was compounded by learning that she is pregnant for a second time. In quick succession, she terminates the pregnancy, divorces him and moves to Florida seeking to leave behind her mounting disappointments with her life choices.
In Miami, she meets an Israeli tourist ten-years her junior. They decide to marry and live together five-years. The South Beach environs where they lived accommodated their open marriage and non-traditional lifestyle. Tiring of life in the fast lane, on a whim they move to New York. Here she exercises her option to leave him to travel and to live briefly in Europe before returning to Miami to start fresh, newly divorced and alone yet again.
Nothing if not optimistic and believing that ‘the third time’s the charm’ she meets, falls deeply in love, and marries her third husband, a charismatic German, who runs an import and export business. Their lavish wedding at the Biltmore Hotel was extravagant and elegant even by Miami standards. Then at 38 she became pregnant for the third time and they decide to keep the child.
Their idyllic life together too soon began to unravel as the lies of her past and those of her new husband begin to surface. In truth, he is a member of the German mafia involved in trafficking contraband inside high-end luxury cars. Unexpectedly, as the birth of their son nears, she awoke to find he has disappeared after she took him to the airport, ostensibly to visit his dying mother in Germany. She is devastated. It was only later that she learned that he disappeared after defrauding his business partners and embezzling large sums of money from friends and acquaintances.
Federal, state, and local detectives had been investigating their actions for some time and questioned her to determine whether or not she was an accomplice. Business partners and associates were looking for him and she couldn’t assuage their suspicions. Abandoned, clueless, and alone, she inhabits a prison of an ocean front condo of marble, glass and fine Spanish furniture. Surrounded by the trappings of wealth she finds no comfort as she calls her husband’s phone until the service is disconnected. In a desperate bid to end the pain, to bring closure to a life of false starts and bruised spirit, she climbs onto the ledge to end it.
The BAHARI PARADOX is a 120,000 word creative non-fiction memoir which bears witness to the physical and psychological struggle of a woman trying to make sense of her oppressive childhood, sort through an impaired father-daughter relationship, synthesize her African and American religious and social heritage, and determine if she can come off the suicide ledge and raise her unborn child.
Perspective agents and interested parties may contact me at +1 (202) 499-2287 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Competing and Related Titles:
- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
- Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- The Caged Virgin by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
- Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir
- Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
- The Liars' Club by Mary Karr