One Last Drink at Guapa
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A debut novel that tells the story of Rasa, a young gay man coming of age in the Middle East.
Set over the course of twenty-four hours, One Last Drink at Guapa follows Rasa, a gay man living in an unnamed Arab country, and trying to carve out a life for himself in the midst of political and religious upheaval. Rasa spends his days translating for Western journalists, and pining for the nights when he can sneak his lover, Taymour, into his room. Then one morning Rasaâ€™s grandmother, the woman who raised him, catches them in bed together. The following dayâ€”the day leading up to Taymourâ€™s weddingâ€”Rasa is consumed by the search for his best friend Maj, a fiery activist and drag queen star of the underground bar, Guapa, who has been arrested by the police. Ashamed to go home and face his grandmother, and reeling from the potential loss of the three most important people in his life, he roams the cityâ€™s slums and prisons, the lavish weddings of the countryâ€™s elite, and the bars where outcasts and intellectuals drink to a long-lost revolution. Each new encounter leads him closer to confronting his own identity, as he revisits his childhood and probes the secrets that haunt his family. As Rasa confronts the simultaneous collapse of political hope and his closest personal relationships, he is forced to discover the roots of his alienation and try to re-emerge into a society that may never accept him.
Saleem Haddad is a writer and aid worker. He was born in Kuwait City to an Iraqi-German mother and a Palestinian-Lebanese father, and has lived in Jordan, Cyprus, Canada and the U.K. He has worked with MÃ©decins Sans FrontiÃ¨res (Doctors Without Borders) and other international organisations in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, and Egypt. In addition to writing, he currently advises international organisations on humanitarian and development issues in the Middle East and North Africa. He divides his time between the Middle East and London, where he lives with his partner and their greyhound, Jack.