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.
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