Selamlik tells the story of Furat, a Syrian in his early 20s, who visits Sibki Park in Damascus, a gathering place for gay men from all over the city. He then learns about the Hammams, secret meeting places for gays located throughout the old city. Inside these public baths, the air is thick with the scent of bay laurel soap, and naked men hide in the steam. Despite society, religion and regime disapproval, Furat finds the love he seeks just before being forced to flee as his world changes.

Later on, Furat wakes up in a cold sweat at an asylum in the Swedish forest recalling a terrifying dream in which he was blindfolded and bound. Having seen the horrific clips of what extremists do to gays circulating on the internet, he begins to write about his experience while locked in the toilet. This is the story of Furat’s journey, along with that of other refugees, as they struggle against physical and economic challenges, migration laws, and deep-seated fears of loss, shame, and hatred. However, amid these difficulties also lie moments of passion and pleasure.Despite everything, Furat remains steadfast in his pursuit of love.

Available from World Editions Publishing

Khaled Alesmael is a writer and journalist from Syria, where he was co-founder of a major music radio station. Now based in London, his writings on sex, LGBTQ+, and migration—in both English and Arabic—have a dedicated international readership. Throughout his career, he has lived and worked in several capital cities in the Middle East and Europe and received the International Visitor Program to the US for his work as an environmental journalist. His debut novel Selamlik has been widely acclaimed and was shortlisted for the 2021 German SKOUTZ Award.

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.