From the Apogee Journal blog, Perigee.
Saleem Haddad’s recently published debut novel, Guapa, is the story of a twenty-something-year-old gay man named Rasa living in an unidentified Arab country, trying to carve out a life for himself in the midst of political and religious upheaval. The novel is set over the course of twenty-four hours, on the day that Rasa’s grandmother, the woman who raised him, catches him in bed with his lover, Taymour.
Here, literary translator Thoraya El-Rayyes talks to Saleem about Arab sexuality under the Western gaze, chain smoking grandmothers, and writing a novel in the midst of the Arab Spring.
Thoraya: A few weeks ago, I had the misfortune to come across an article in The New York Times with the headline The Sexual Misery of the Arab World by an Algerian writer, Kamel Daoud. He wanted to inform the Generic American Liberal (or whoever it is that reads the NYT) that “sex determines everything that is unspoken” in the Arab world. Everything.