Ahmad Danny Ramadan

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Ahmad Danny Ramadan
أحمد داني رمضان
Author and activist Ahmad Danny Ramadan at the Vancouver Pride Parade 2016 Proclamation event.
Author and activist Ahmad Danny Ramadan at the Vancouver Pride Parade 2016 Proclamation event.
BornMay 31, 1984
Damascus, Syria
OccupationAuthor, Activist

Ahmed Danny Ramadan (born 1984) is a Syrian-Canadian award-winning novelist, public speaker, and LGBTQ-refugee activist who was born in Damascus, Syria.[1] Ramadan's work focuses on themes of immigration, identity, diaspora and belonging. His debut novel, The Clothesline Swing, won multiple awards. Currently, Ramadan lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with his husband.


Early work[edit]

Ramadan has translated the work of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi to English, released in 2015 by Greystone Books under the title 1000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think.

Ramadan published two collections of short stories in Arabic while he lived in Egypt. His first collection, Death and Other Fools, was released by Dar Laila in 2004. His second collection, Aria, was released by Dar Malameh in 2008.

The Clothesline Swing[edit]

The Clothesline Swing is Ramadan's debut novel in English. Inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, the novel tells the epic story of two lovers anchored to the memory of a dying Syria. One is a Hakawati, a storyteller, keeping life in forward motion by relaying remembered fables to his dying partner. Each night he weaves stories of his childhood in Damascus, of the cruelty he has endured for his sexuality, of leaving home, of war, of his fated meeting with his lover. Meanwhile, Death himself, in his dark cloak, shares the house with the two men, eavesdropping on their secrets as he awaits their final undoing.

Cover of the first edition of The Clothesline Swing - Nightwood Editions

In its review, titled "The Sweetest Taboo", Winnipeg Free Press stated that the author "has crafted a novel that compels readers to share — vicariously, with his characters — the beauty and history of Syria, the horrors of civil war and the joy, release and pain of forbidden love." adding that the novel is "an enjoyable, if challenging, cultural and historical excursion.".[2]

Publishers Weekly called the work "remarkable" stating that "Ramadan's delicate use of imagery links these narratives, allowing them to reverberate with meaning and emotion.".[3]

"This debut novel from the Vancouver-based Syrian writer reads as many things," writes Kamal Al-Solaylee for Canadian magazine Quill and Quire, "a coming-out memoir, a history lesson, a critique of authoritarianism, a narrative about sharing narratives – but above all, it's a requiem for a dying country and people." [4] The Globe and Mail called the novel "sombre, fantastical, violent and tender," adding that Ramadan's "English-language debut is a gay son's conflicted love letter to Syria."[5]

The Georgia Straight called the narration of Ramadan "fragmented, poetic, and rich with magic realism," adding that the novel "is a lesson in both artistic mastery and human resilience. And, unexpectedly: joy." [6]

The Clothesline Swing won the Independent Publisher Book Awards' Golden Medal in the LGBT category,[7] as well as the Canadian Authors Association's Fred Kerner Award for Best Overall Fiction Book in 2017,[8] was picked among The Globe and Mail's 100 Best Books 2017,[9] and was number 7 of the Toronto Star Top 10 Books of 2017.[10] It was long listed on the CBC's Canada Reads 2018 contest,[11] shortlisted to the Forest of Reading's Evergreen Award 2018,[12] shortlisted for the Lambda Literary Award Gay Fiction category in 2018, and longlisted for Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic.[13]

The Clothesline Swing was translated to Hebrew and released in May 2018[14] as well as French, to be released in August 2019. The book was re-launched in the UK by British Publisher The Indigo Press.[15]

Salma the Syrian Chef[edit]

Cover of Salma the Syrian Chef - Annick Press

His children's book, Salma the Syria Chef, is released in 2020 by Annick Press [16]. The picture book tells the story of newcomer Salma whose mother is struggling to adjust to their new life in Canada. Salma decides to uplift her mother's spirit by cooking a traditional Syrian meal for her, with the help of their new friends in the Welcome Home they are living at.

“Salma is deeply relatable in her determination, frustration, and sensitivity, especially in moments when things do not go as planned" wrote Shannon Ozirny for Quill and Quire[17]. The book was also positively reviewed by Kirkus Reviews who stated that “this beautiful story grasps diversity, exploring resilience, love, friendship, and the meaning of home.” [18]. Publishers Weekly praised the book's inclusive messages, and stated that “Ramadan writes with poetic immediacy about displacement, home, and family.”[19]


In a Vice Media interview in 2016, Ramadan talked about the underground work he used to do to support and sometimes house queer individuals while he lived in Damascus.[20] He later elaborated on this experience in a 2018 interview and stated "I turned my house [in Damascus] into an underground LGBTQ centre... it was actually quite the loving community until I was arrested for it."[21] Ramadan mentioned in a separate interview to The Media Line, that he was arrested at the airport by Syrian officials and held for six weeks. After his release, he was declared a persona non grata by the Syrian government and as a result he immigrated to Lebanonas a refugee in 2012.[20][22] Eventually, Ramadan was granted asylum in Canada, and in September 2014 he immigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia.[23] By 2015, Ramadan already began working at Qmunity, a queer resource center in British Columbia.[24] Around the same time Ramadan was working for Qmunity, he started volunteering for the Rainbow Refugee Society which describes itself as, "a Vancouver based community group that helps individuals seeking refugee protection in Canada based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression (SOGIE) or HIV status."[25] While volunteering at the Rainbow Refugee Society, Ramadan helped organize and support the sponsorship of Syrian refugees.[26] Since May 2015, Ramadan has also run an annual fundraiser known as An Evening in Damascus. The goals of the fundraiser are to introduce the community to authentic Syrian culture and heritage, build a safe space for Syrian Queer and Trans refugees to celebrate their identity, offer opportunities to foster friendship and integration between Syrian Queer and Trans newcomers and LGBTQ2+ Canadian community members, and fundraise for private sponsorships.[27][28] Through the fundraiser, Ramadan has raised over $150,000 for LGBTQ-identifying refugees, and he has helped 23 individuals obtain refugee protection in Canada.[27]Ramadan speaks publicly about issues related to gay Syrian refugees, and he has expressed his views as a speaker at conferences and conventions such as TedxSFU, Qmunity's IDAHOT Breakfast, the Liberal Party Convention, and Six Degrees Conference. [27] Ramadan used to write a bi-weekly column for Daily Xtra between 2012 and 2016, covering topics such as what it's like to live as a refugee in another country, and how to integrate LGBTQ refugees into Canadian society.[29][30]

Since November 2016, Ramadan has served as Director-at-large for the board of Vancouver Pride Society, and as of 2019, Ramadan now serves as Director for the board of the Rainbow Railroad.[27][31][32]

In 2016, Ramadan was honored as the grand marshal of the Vancouver Pride Festival for his work supporting LGBTQ-refugees and newcomers.[33][34] In 2017, he was awarded the Social Activist StandOut Award by the Vancouver Pride Society for his social-activist work.[35] That same year he was also picked as one of the 25 Top Immigrants to Canada by Canadian Immigrant.[36] In 2018, he was a recipient of the 2018 Bonham Centre Award from the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies.[37]


Media related to Danny Ramadan at Wikimedia Commons

  1. ^ "Danny Ramadan brings struggles of LGBT refugees to light". Cbc.ca. May 15, 2015. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  2. ^ "The sweetest taboo". www.winnipegfreepress.com. Retrieved 2017-07-02.
  3. ^ "Fiction Book Review: The Clothesline Swing - Publishers Weekly".
  4. ^ "The Clothesline Swing - Quill and Quire".
  5. ^ Colbert, Jade (May 12, 2017). "Review: Eamon McGrath's Berlin-Warszawa Express, Ahmad Danny Ramadan's The Clothesline Swing and Ami Sands Brodoff's In Many Waters". The Globe and Mail.
  6. ^ "Ahmad Danny Ramadan honours resilience in The Clothesline Swing". Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly. 2017-06-07. Retrieved 2017-06-27.
  7. ^ Awards, IPPY. "2018 Medalists Categories 1-42". www.ippyawards.com. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  8. ^ "2018 Fred Kerner Book Award Winner and Shortlist". Canadian Authors Association. Retrieved 2018-06-19.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "The Globe 100:These are the best books of 2017". The Globe and Mail. 2017-12-14. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  10. ^ "The Star's top 10 books of 2017". The Toronto Star. 2017-12-22. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  11. ^ "The Canada Reads 2018 longlist is here! | CBC Books". CBC. Retrieved 2018-01-09.
  12. ^ Inc., Advanced Solutions International. "Forest of Reading". www.accessola.org. Retrieved 2018-02-02.
  13. ^ "2018 Sunburst Award Longlist! | The Sunburst Award Society". www.sunburstaward.org. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  14. ^ גונן, יוענה. ""נדנדת חבלי הכביסה": זיכרונותיו של פליט הומו מסוריה הפכו לאגדה אכזרית". הארץ (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  15. ^ "The Clothesline Swing". The Indigo Press. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  16. ^ "Salma the Syrian Chef, Picture Books". Canadian Children's Books - Annick Press. Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  17. ^ "Salma the Syrian Chef". Quill and Quire. 2020-01-27. Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  18. ^ SALMA THE SYRIAN CHEF | Kirkus Reviews.
  19. ^ www.publishersweekly.com https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-77321-375-0. Retrieved 2020-02-17. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ a b Berman, Sarah (2016-07-26). "Meet the Gay Syrian Refugee Who's Leading Vancouver's Pride Parade". Vice. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  21. ^ "Q&A: Ahmad Danny Ramadan on the unique experiences of LGBTQ refugees". This Magazine. 2018-02-27. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  22. ^ "Syrian, Gay, Refugee: Author Tells Media Line of Trials and Tribulations (with VIDEO)". The Media Line. 2019-05-14. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  23. ^ "Gay Syrian refugees start new lives in Vancouver". CBC News. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  24. ^ "Welcome to the team, Danny!". QMUNITY. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  25. ^ "Helping LGBTQ+ Refugees Resettle in Canada - Rainbow Refugee Vancouver". www.rainbowrefugee.com. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  26. ^ "Ahmad Danny Ramadan". Canadian Immigrant. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  27. ^ a b c d "Bio". Ahmad Danny Ramadan. 2016-04-20. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  28. ^ "Why Damascus?". An Evening In Damascus. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  29. ^ Ahmed Danny Ramadan (October 18, 2013). "Contributor Profile". Daily Xtra. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  30. ^ "Ahmed Danny Ramadan". Xtra. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  31. ^ "Our Board". www.rainbowrailroad.org. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  32. ^ "Vancouver Pride Society :: Screens". Vancouver Pride Society. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  33. ^ Johnson, Chris (October 21, 2016). "Gay Syrian refugee leads Vancouver Pride parade". Washington Blade. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  34. ^ "Cafe Politics: Vancouver Pride Grand Marshall hosts 'Evening in Damascus' LGBTQ refugee fundraiser". Metro. July 22, 2016. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  35. ^ "StandOUT! Awards and LOUD scholarships honour Vancouver's outstanding LGBT individuals and allies". The Georgia Straight. 2017-06-30. Retrieved 2019-12-13.
  36. ^ "RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants of 2017 announced! | Canadian Immigrant". canadianimmigrant.ca. Retrieved 2017-06-27.
  37. ^ "Bonham Centre Awards Gala 2018". my.alumni.utoronto.ca. Retrieved 2019-12-13.