Former Syrian refugee Ahmad Danny Ramadan of Vancouver is a journalist with bylines in the Washington Post, The Guardian and Foreign Policy. His history of working with organizations in the Middle East as well as his personal experience as a refugee have made him deeply involved in volunteerism, democracy, social justice and LGBTQ refugees' rights. In 2016, he was Community Outreach Coordinator of QMUNITY, British Columbia's Queer Resource Centre, as well as Grand Marshal for Vancouver's Gay Pride Parade. Prior to his first novel, he had published two collections of short stories in Arabic.

The Clothesline Swing, Danny Ramadan's first novel in English, draws inspiration from Arabian Tales of One Thousand and One Nights, as two lovers lament their separation from Syria. From the mountains of Syria, in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, the characters describe journeys through the valleys of Lebanon, the seas of Turkey and the heat of Egypt before reaching Canada. Hakawati, a storyteller, tells fables to his dying male partner. Meanwhile Death, a looming character in a dark house, shares a house with the two men, eavesdropping on their secrets. The Clothesline Swing won a gold medal in the IPPY Awards LGBT+ category, is a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in the gay fiction category, was a nominee for the Ontario Library Associations' Evergreen Award and was longlisted for the 2018 edition of CBC's Canada Reads.

Ramadan followed up with the children's picture book, Salma the Syrian Chef (Annick Press $21.95). From the publisher: "All Salma wants is to make her mama smile again. Between English classes, job interviews, and missing Papa back in Syria, Mama always seems busy or sad. A homemade Syrian meal might cheer her up, but Salma doesn't know the recipe, or what to call the vegetables in English, or where to find the right spices! Luckily, the staff and other newcomers at the Welcome Center are happy to lend a hand -- and a sprinkle of sumac. With creativity, determination, and charm, Salma brings her new friends together to show Mama that even though things aren’t perfect, there is cause for hope and celebration. Syrian culture is beautifully represented through the meal Salma prepares and Anna Bron's vibrant illustrations, while the diverse cast of characters speaks to the power of cultivating community in challenging circumstances."

BOOKS:

Salma the Syrian Chef (Annick Press, 2020) $21.95 978-1773213750. Illustrations by Anna Bron

The Clothesline Swing (Nightwood, 2016) $19.95 978-0-88971-332-1

[BCBW 2018]