Princess Jasmine strips

Deborah Baker

  • Guapa by Saleem Haddad
    Europa Editions, 304 pp, £10.99, October 2016, ISBN 978 1 60945 413 5

Guapa, a freewheeling and incendiary first novel by Saleem Haddad, is set in an Arab country familiar to many from the newspapers, even though its author won’t let us place it on a map. The son of a Lebanese-Palestinian father and an Iraqi-German mother, Haddad is himself a composite. His story takes place six months after Arab Spring-like protests have besieged the country’s capital. Posters of an unnamed president’s face loom over crumbling neighbourhoods suffering from blackouts, water shortages and the high price of petrol. There is an Isis-like massacre and an Islamic Brotherhood-like leader who may or may not have been involved. Nameless country-less refugees are being trucked to camps on the city’s outskirts.

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