Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Guapa Paperback – March 8, 2016
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
"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
“A provocative and emotional coming of age story, Guapa is an excellent debut novel.” —Bustle
"By turns politically nuanced and romantically tender." —Next Magazine
“An engrossing and timely debut novel by a provocative new voice. Haddad's characters are unforgettable.” —Randa Jarrar, author of A Map of Home
Top Customer Reviews
The narrative follows Rasa, a young gay man who lives in an unnamed Arab country steeped in political turmoil. He returns from America with a college education that doesn't appear to offer any benefits in his home country, and in the end joins a couple of friends in starting a small, floundering translation company. His mother ran away from an unhappy marriage long ago and his father has been dead for over a decade. This leaves his grandmother, Teta, as his only family and for years she was the moral compass through which Rasa saw the world. Unfortunately, Rasa soon discovered that living under Teta's hyper-traditional regime was stifling.
Thankfully, Rasa had Guapa, the titular bar that he and some of his friends liked to frequent; it proved to be a sanctuary where men who love men and women who love women can be themselves in a world that doesn't allow them to do either.
As the story opens, we meet Rasa soon after Teta finally uncovered his secret when she found him in bed with another man. But he wasn't just any man, he was Taymour, the love of his life and only source of happiness in his bleak existence. This discovery summons forth a strong sense of "eib," or shame, hammered into him by his grandmother -- the shame of doing something forbidden and the fear and anxiety that comes with wondering what other people will think. This idea of shame is a recurring theme throughout the story.Read more ›
The novel should be required reading for gay men in this country since the conditions in this Arab country are not that different from what those of us in the U. S. old enough to remember rotary telephones and manual typewriters faced not that long ago. The infamous Hardwick Supreme Court decision concerning sodomy that was the law of the land for decades came down in the summer of 1986. And the police routinely raided bars in the U. S. and hauled off the customers in paddy wagons for decades here. The mother of a friend of mine, a fine human being, a responsible citizen and the divorced father of two sons whom he always supported, treated him much the same way as Rasa’s grandmother treats him when she found out that he had invited a boyfriend home to his basement apartment in her house in the 1970’s. She called him awful, hateful names and never forgave him as long as she lived.Read more ›
While the description says it covers 24 hours, the bulk of the book is spent in flashbacks to key moments in Rasa's life. I found his time in America one of the more interesting, especially confronting his Arab identity. However, there are some loose ends and half-complete stories in the book. Particularly I wish the relationship with Sufyan was deeper and hadn't ended so incompletely.
Nonetheless, it's a fantastic story with a voice that's both somewhat familiar and unique. The intimate scenes are engaging and, as another mentioned here, Acimanesque -- which is a very high compliment indeed. I enjoyed reading his debut novel very much, and I'm looking forward to more.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was intrigued by the story line. Writing was mediocre. The book is more of a device for the author to share their ideas of political and cultural revolution more than to tell a... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Grace
I often hesitate to pick up the book of novel length which features limited amount of time in the life of the protagonist, I worry about pacing issues, but this one I could grab... Read morePublished 13 days ago by Sirius
I tend to love books that take place in a 24-hour period; there's something about that time restraint that draws me in. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Ste
The writing style is good, and the story engrossing offering a look at a culture and political system much different from that of America. Read morePublished 15 days ago by LAURI CRUMLEY COATES
While the theme of this book resonated with me, I was unable to get interested in the story which seemed to drag on and on. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Fairbanks Reader
This is a passable portrait of another culture. It addresses both political and sexual issues. The writing is capable and the story is well told. It's not great by any means. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Neal Reynolds
The country and the world are in a lot of true and honest chaos right now. Our country along with others is scarily reevaluating how it seems to feel about gay people and gay... Read morePublished 17 days ago by barry
The gay coming of age novel is pumped with new and invigorated life with the addition of Haddad's terrific and exciting debut 'Guapa'. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Brett Benner
I had high hopes for this book, and it didn't disappoint. Like the best books, this one feels like the author put his whole life and whole self into it.Published 21 days ago by Ben M