A Middle-Eastern capital caught in the revolutionary wave of the Arab Spring. A day in the life of a young man disillusioned with both East and West and struggling to find a place for himself in a society ruled by hypocrisy and contradictions. Rasa works as an interpreter for Western journalists by day and divides his nights between the Guapa, an underground nightclub where the city’s clandestine LGBT community congregates, and his secret lover Taymour. Every night Taymour sneaks into the house Rasa shares with his overbearing grandmother, the woman who raised him. When she finds them in bed together on the eve of Taymour’s wedding day, all hell breaks loose. That same day Rasa learns his best friend, the famous drag queen Majid, has been arrested by the police. Unable to go home, afraid for Majid’s fate, and heartbroken by Taymour’s determination to keep living a double life, Rasa’s fragile balance collapses, while all around him the brief, intense season of public protest is cut short by the regime’s repression and the rapid rise of the hard-line Islamist movement.
Wry and aching, irresistibly funny at times, Guapa heralds the arrival of a strong new voice from the Arabic world.
Saleem Haddad was born in Kuwait City in 1983 to a Lebanese-Palestinian father and an Iraqi-German mother, and was educated in Jordan, Canada, and the United Kingdom. He has worked as an aid worker with Médecins Sans Frontières and other organisations in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Lebanon and Iraq. His writing has appeared in Slate, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Daily Beast, among other publications. He currently lives in London.