Reading Guapa means spending 24 hours in the life of Resa, a gay man living in an unnamed Arab country, as he reflects on the immediate trauma and past events of his life. The stories of his father’s death, his mother’s departure, and his difficult relationships with friends and lovers, are interwoven through a tale of his struggle to discover his place in the world. This novel delivers so much more than it promises, delving deep into Resa’s mind to explore issues of marginalisation within every community Resa tries to discover an identity for himself. Resa struggles to find somewhere that he belongs and is on a constant search to find meaning in the definitions that other people put onto him, based on his nationality, sexuality, religion (or lack of).
This is an amazing novel that explores complex issues in a delicate and sensitive way, bringing them to life through vivid characters and an evocative landscape. I found myself nervous before the ending, worrying what Resa was going to do and what would happen to him. I wondered how he would react at the wedding and if it would destroy him. Being able to see through a small window in to a world that I’m not a part of was exhilarating and terrifying in equal measures, as I found myself wanting to argue with almost everyone Resa came into contact with.
I received a free copy of this book from Other Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.