The Clothesline Swing is a journey through the troublesome aftermath of the Arab Spring. A former Syrian refugee himself, Ramadan unveils an enthralling tale of courage that weaves through the mountains of Syria, the valleys of Lebanon, the encircling seas of Turkey, the heat of Egypt and finally, the hope of a new home in Canada.
Inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, The Clothesline Swing 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.
“Ramadan’s juxtaposition of the rawness of history and the dreamscapes of fantasy - his imaginative melange of stories, voices, and timeframes - is daring and deftly handled. Through the storyteller-narrator, the author succeeds in rescuing some of Syria’s voiceless from oblivion...Ramadan’s talent as a young writer is beautifully evident in this debut novel.”
Philip Gambone, The Gay & Lesbian Review/ Worldwide, April-May 2018 issue
"Stretching from Damascus to Cairo, Beirut to Vancouver, and populated with characters who suffer from mental illness, who have lost family or bits of themselves to oppressive regimes, who faced persecution because of their gender or sexuality, who fled or have endured war, these stories are woven together with skill and artistry. While each story is autonomous, Ramadan's delicate use of imagery links these narratives, allowing them to reverberate with meaning and emotion."
-- Publishers Weekly
"The Clothesline Swing is a beautiful, cultural artifact that gives a rare insight into the world of gay men and women hidden in the Middle East. The first novel of its kind, The Clothesline Swing brings to surface the hardships that gay Syrian refugees experience. ...The Clothesline Swing is culturally significant and important, and therefore, the novel should be read. ... The Clothesline Swing helps humanize Syrian refugees by giving faith, hope, and more importantly, a voice to these people who, in the midst of the current refugee crisis and chaos, have faced and continue to face unimaginable struggles."