Guapa By Saleem Haddad

Aug 23, 2016

  Set over the course of twenty-four hours, Guapa follows Rasa, a gay man living in an unnamed Arab country, as he tries to carve out a life for himself in the midst of political and social upheaval. Rasa spends his days translating for Western journalists and pining for the nights when he can sneak his lover, Taymour, into his room.

One night Rasa's grandmother — the woman who raised him — catches them in bed together. The following day 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, Rasa roams the city’s slums and prisons, the lavish weddings of the country’s elite, and the bars where outcasts and intellectuals drink to a long-lost revolution. 

  For more than a decade, Katherine Zoepf has lived in or traveled throughout the Arab world, reporting on the lives of women, whose role in the region has never been more in flux. Only a generation ago, female adolescence as we know it in the West did not exist in the Middle East. There were only children and married women.

  Najla Said could be called the “Eloise” of Academia. Growing up in New York City as the daughter of Edward Said, the famous Palestinian intellectual, and a sophisticated Lebanese mother, it wasn’t rare for Najla to answer the door as a young girl to world-renowned scholars; to sit in on heated political discussions over dinner or to receive a kiss on the cheek by Yasir Arafat.

Yet in spite of her extraordinarily cultured and colorful upbringing, Najla admits to being a young American girl who simply wished to fit in and who often felt conflicted about her cultural background and identity.

Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in an Arab-American Family is her memoir born out of Najla’s hugely popular one-woman show, Palestine, which had a nine-week sold-out run Off Broadway.