Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Fiction Literary

The Clothesline Swing

by (author) Ahmad Danny Ramadan

Nightwood Editions
Initial publish date
May 2017
Literary, Magical Realism, Gay
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2017
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2017
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


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.

About the author

Ahmad Danny Ramadan is an experienced 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 Syrian refugee have made Ramadan passionate about volunteerism, democracy, social justice and LGBTQ refugees' rights. He is currently the Community Outreach Coordinator of QMUNITY, British Columbia's Queer Resource Centre. He was also the Grand Marshal for Vancouver's Gay Pride Parade 2016. He has previously authored two collections of short stories in Arabic. The Clothesline Swing is his first novel in English. He lives in Vancouver, BC.

Ahmad Danny Ramadan's profile page


  • Long-listed, Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic
  • Winner, Canadian Authors Fred Kerner Award
  • Short-listed, Lambda Literary Award - Gay Fiction
  • Winner, IPPY Awards - Gold Medalist LGBT Fiction
  • Long-listed, CBC Canada Reads
  • Short-listed, Ontario Library Association's Evergreen Award

Editorial Reviews

"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

“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

The Gay & Lesbian Review/ Worldwide

"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."

Lambda Literary

Related lists