Saleem Haddad's Guapa (Europa Editions) has been awarded the Polari First Book Prize 2017 for his "intimate and complex" portrait of gay life in the Arab world.
Now in its seventh year, the Prize is awarded annually to a writer whose first book explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction.
Kuwait-born Haddad was named the winner of the 2017 award at a ceremony held in London’s Southbank Centre as part of the London Literature Festival.
Set over the course of 24 hours, Guapa follows Rasa, a gay man living in an unnamed Arab country, trying to carve out a life for himself in the midst of political and religious upheaval.
Chair of judges Paul Burston praised Haddad's "poetic and politically daring" title, saying: “Guapa offers an intimate, complex portrait of gay life in the Arab world - a subject rarely explored in fiction. It’s poetic, politically daring, beautifully written and marks the arrival of an exciting new voice.”
Haddad was born in Kuwait City to a Lebanese-Palestinian father and an Iraqi-German mother, and was educated in Jordan, Canada and the United Kingdom. His writing has appeared in Slate, the Los Angeles Review of Books and The Daily Beast, among other publications. He currently lives in London.
Haddad’s debut emerged victorious from a shortlist which included Expecting by Chitra Ramaswamy (Saraband), We Go Around In The Night And Are Consumed By Fire by Jules Grant (Myriad), Straight Jacket by Matthew Todd (Bantam), The Vegetarian Tigers of Paradise by Crystal Jeans (Honno) and Jerusalem Ablaze by Orlando Ortega-Medina (Cloud Lodge).