Guapa by Saleem Haddad
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 Maj, has been arrested by the police.
Unable to go home, afraid for Maj'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.
"Guapa by Saleem Haddad is so beautiful. The politics of a Post-Arab dictatorship is compelling and seeing the narrator having to navigate it as a closeted queer person is heart-wrenching." Alex Gibbon, The Gryphon
Paperback / 304 pages