Salzburg Global Fellow Danny Ramadan Wins Canadian Authors Book Award

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Jul 25, 2018
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Salzburg Global Fellow Danny Ramadan Wins Canadian Authors Book Award

Syrian-Canadian author speaks to Salzburg Global about his latest success and the impact of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum

Salzburg Global Fellow Danny Ramadan has received another accolade for his latest book, The Clothesline Swing.

Ramadan, who has previously attended two programs of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, recently won the 2018 Fred Kerner Book Award, which is given each year by the Canadian Authors Association.

This tale takes place during the aftermath of the Arab Spring and tells the story of two lovers anchored to the memory of a dying Syria. The book has already been widely acclaimed and was named among the Best Books of 2017 by the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. It also received an Independent Publisher Gold Medal in the category of LGBT Fiction.

Ramadan is a a Syrian-Canadian author, storyteller and LGBTQ refugees activist. Born in Syria, Ramadan moved to Vancouver, Canada in September 2014. During the Salzburg Global program, The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion, Ramadan discussed his experiences as a gay refugee and his search to find a place to belong.

After winning his latest award, Salzburg Global caught up with Danny to discuss his reaction, the messages he wants his readers to take away, and his experience as a Fellow of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. Read our Q&A below.

SG: Congratulations on winning the Fred Kerner Book Award. What were your first thoughts when you found out you had won?

DR: I was completely floored when I found out I won that award. Being recognized for my art is the highest form of recognition I can think of. It says that my art, despite it being about characters on the margins, and being an unconventional form of storytelling, can still hold value in my new community here in Canada.

SG: Was it a surprise to be featured on the shortlist? Did you have any expectations when you first published the book?

DR: When I published the book, I wished the best for it but knew that my expectations might be too high. I'm thankful the book won this award, and one more award, as well as was featured in multiple shortlists and best books of 2017 lists. It honestly came as both a confirmation that I'm on the right track and a surprise that my work as an author can hold value for others who don't necessarily share the same lived experiences with me.
 
SG: What was the drive behind writing a book and how did you find that process? Is it a skill that came naturally to you?

DR: I have always thought of myself as an author. If we queer people are superheroes, my superpower was my ability to write. It always felt natural and comfortable for me to write. If anything, my storytelling skills are the reason I managed to leave a mark in all aspects of my life as an activist or a journalist. I was driven to write this book because there were stories that I found unique to the experiences of queer Syrian refugees that I believed should be told, and I didn't even know if those stories will be read by anyone else other than me, so having this opportunity for those stories to be shared means the world to me.

SG: What message(s) do you want readers to take away from The Clothesline Swing?

DR: I think the main message behind the story of The Clothesline Swing is that there is a lot of resilience in the spirits of queer refugees everywhere. Their stories are not that of hardship, but also of survival and finding love and being true to who they are; as well as finding paths to accomplish their dreams both as humans but also as humans who are marginalized and second-rate in many communities around the world.

SG: You’ve received excellent feedback so far, but has there been a particular piece of feedback or a review you’ve received that sticks in your mind?

DR: Being shortlisted for the Lambda awards was a highlight in my life and the best accomplishment I've ever managed to achieve. I've known about the awards since I was a unique fella back in Syria, and I dreamed one day of winning one. I can now say I was shortlisted for that prestigious award and who knows, maybe I win it with my next book.

SG: How would you describe your experience as a participant of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum? What impact has it had on you?

DR: How to describe a life-changing event that truly affected me positively throughout the years it followed? This is too difficult. I have met folks that I learned so much from, and people that I connected with on spiritual and meaningful ways. I've seen stories unfold in front of my eyes on the panels that means so much to me. I'm a witness for this Forum, and it made me a better person for sure.


Danny Ramadan has attended two Salzburg Global programs. This includes The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion (2016) and Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging (2017).