Satin Man

Satin Man
(working title)
رجل من ساتان
(Rajul min satan)

Written by

(صهيب أيوب)

Published by


A rich exploration of the ambiguous place of one queer man within the close-knit fabric of working-class Tripolitanian life

Satin Man opens with a bang: a homoerotically-charged postmortem examination told from the perspective of the dead body. We soon surmise that the body—which goes on to narrate, in part, the story—is that of Nabil, illegitimate son of gangster Khalid Akuma, who was once in love with a Jewish singer, Gloria Mizrahi, and kidnaps her baby when he learns she intends to leave for Cairo. The Akuma family rules over Tripoli, Lebanon’s Bab al-Tabbaneh neighbourhood, where Nabil grows up in the care of female relatives and neighbours, his father having gone into hiding after murdering a rival. A quiet, lonely boy, he likes to wear the glamorous women’s dresses which he learns to tailor under the tutelage of Aliya the seamstress. Against the powerfully evoked backdrop of Tripoli’s turbulent working-class neighbourhoods and their often murderous hierarchies of power, religion and political alliance, Nabil gradually discovers that he is gay—but the real shock comes when the dramatic story of his parentage turns out to be untrue.

Approximate number of pages: 110 p.

Foreign rights: contact the publisher


Translation samples

Reasons to publish this book

Tripoli is hardly a well-known literary city, but this book evokes its dense urban life with the same loving attention that Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels did for that city. The characters of Satin Man, who hail from different classes, religions and political affiliations, play out a gripping drama of social and sexual status with an almost soap-opera appeal, and Nabil makes for a protagonist so compelling that it’s easy to forget he’s dead.


  • English


    by Sharon Grosso

    published as

    Man of Satin (excerpt) in the United States in 2023 by Words Without Borders
Reviewed by Katharine Halls