Guapa Paperback – 20 Oct 2016
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"This day in a life of a gay man under a post-Arab spring dictatorship is as compelling as it is insightful... This immensely readable novel is fluent, passionate and emotionally honest. Equally astute in its analysis of Arab and American mores, the book's characters are nuanced and dynamic." --The Guardian
"An engrossing and timely debut novel by a provocative new voice. Haddad's characters are unforgettable. " --Randa Jarrar, author of "A Map of Home" "Vibrant, wrenching début novel" --New Yorker "Those looking for a nuanced portrait of gay life in the modern Middle East will find plenty to admire in this ...promising debut. " -- Kirkus Reviews" "Haddad presents a striking look at gay life, the psychological cost of conformity, and what it means to be true to yourself from a Middle Eastern perspective. " --Booklist "Warmly recommended to all readers who are interested in issues of diversity and the Middle East." -- Library Journal "A remarkable debut. " --The Huffington Post "Haddad's unwavering dedication to detail, narrative arc, and consequence make Guapa necessarily poignant, uncomfortable, and meaningful. Like all good art, it moves beyond itself to shine a light on the world it bears." --PopMatters "Set in an unnamed Middle Eastern country across the course of one day, Guapa follows the story of Rasa, a young gay man who has been caught in bed with a boyfriend by his overbearing grandmother Rasa exists against a backdrop of civil unrest, heavy-handed police and homophobia. Faced with the prospect of never seeing his lover again, the novel gives us an insight into how it feels to be in love in a society where that love remains strongly forbidden. ' I dreamt of kissing his cheek, because it struck me that to kiss your lover's cheek in public was quite ordinary', Rasa writes, sharing his painful desire and longing in a story that is equal parts romance and thriller. Through flashbacks, we learn of Rasa's younger life; his parents' deaths, his awakening sexuality, and his time studying in the U.S., where he is distrusted in the wake of terror attacks in the west. Saleem Haddad is London based, but in this novel he draws on his Middle Eastern heritage to paint a truthful image of the manifestations and perceptions of homosexuality within Arab culture. His background as an aid worker, and in assisting refugees from the region, only further enhances his understanding of the wider problems he discusses; notably the fallout from the Arab Spring, and the rise of Islamic extremism. Guapa sets Haddad up as a literary voice capable of narrating untold stories of the modern gay experience, from one of the most complicated parts of the world." --Attitude Magazine "Guapa shines beautifully in its moments of sweetness and satire."-- Full Stop "By turns politically nuanced and romantically tender." --Next Magazine
"Guapa is ultimately an inspiring novel written in a vigorous and convincing voice. Rasa forcefully asserts his individuality outside of any stereotypes or expectations of how any society wants him to conform." --Lonesome Reader"The deeply personal and effortlessly readable narrative explores the negotiations that a queer, Muslim, American-educated man in love is forced to make in spaces where his identity is constantly called into question." --Huffington Post
"Guapa is well worth reading." --Roxane Gay
"The novel is incredible because it is both truthful and exhilarating." --Book Riot
About the Author
Saleem Haddad was born in Kuwait City in 1983 to a Lebanese-Palestinian father and an Iraqi-German mother, and educated in Jordan, Canada, and the United Kingdom. He has worked as an aid worker with Médecins Sans Frontières in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, and currently lives in London, where he advises on inclusion of refugees, women, and young people in the transition and peace processes of the Arab Spring.