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Comment: All profits go to Housing Works -- NYC's largest HIV/AIDS organization. Minimal wear to cover. Pages clean and binding tight. Paperback.
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Guapa Paperback – March 8, 2016

4.1 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of March 2016: This debut novel takes readers on a journey across countries and cultures to demonstrate the impact of the definitions we place on ourselves and those around us. Over the course of 24 hours Rasa, a young gay Middle Eastern man—who has just been outted by his grandmother--struggles with the potential loss of everything that matters to him. Humorous, powerful and deeply endearing, Guapa is one of those stories that surprises and stays with you. --Penny Mann


"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

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

Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (March 8, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590517695
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590517697
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Guapa is the kind of book I am always open to reading and also the kind of book I root for. When I hear about a new novel that illuminates the experiences of nonwhite, non-western LGBT people, I want to spread the word. So when I got a chance to read an copy of Guapa before release, I was thrilled!

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.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Saleem Haddad’s novel GUAPA, which is the name of an underground bar where the narrator Rasa and his friends sometimes hang out, opens with his lament that his grandmother has seen him and his boyfriend Taymour in his bed through the keyhole of his bedroom door the night before. This action in this engaging novel takes place in a twenty-four-hour period with flashbacks about Rasa’s boyhood, his parents, and his time as a student in the United States in this Arab country that is never named. (We do know, however, that apparently it is neither Iraq nor Afghanistan since the narrator refers to an American president who starts a war. “I listened to the American president’s solemn declaration of war. I watched the footage of bombs dropping on a city that looked like my own.”)

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked up Mr. Haddad's book after reading his thoughtful piece in The Daily Beast. I had a thousand thoughts after reading this, and feel like I wanted to say something about the deeper message or its relationship to my own coming out, but I'm not sure exactly what. So I'll just talk about the story for now.

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.
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Format: Paperback
A well written debut novel discussing rarely adressed issues in modern Middle Eastern literature. The story is based around a young man named Rasa and the events he experiences in 24 hours. Haddad manages to incorporate several issues such as homosexuality, religion, war, racism, family hierarchy and anxiety in one book. The novel is a must-read for many young, gay people in the Middle East as well as people outside the region to see that the daily struggle for happiness is the same in Arab countries and elsewhere. Being Arab and gay myself I really appreciate how the author focusses on two different identities: the man whose homosexuality is an issue in the Arab world and the homosexual whose 'Arabness' is an issue in the West. I can clearly see this story made into a film. Keep up the good work!
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