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Kamal Al-Solaylee is an associate professor at the School of Journalism at Ryerson University. His first book Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes won the Toronto Book Award and was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, a Lambda Literary Award, and CBC’s Canada Reads. Born in Yemen, Al-Solaylee was the national theatre critic for The Globe and Mail and holds a PhD in Victorian literature from the University of Nottingham. He lives in Toronto.


Kamal Al-Solaylee on Brown

Award History

2016 Winner

Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing
for Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (To Everyone)

Jury Citation

“Not black, not white, but brown: how do skin colour and its shades play out in our relationships, our economy, and our politics? Kamal Al-Solaylee’s book dares to propose and define an emerging racial category, drawing on a lifetime’s travel and inquiry to discuss the common experience and the awkward status of the Latin, Asian, and Mediterranean peoples of the fast-rising global south. Thoughtful and refreshing, Brown has a chance to become a made-in-Canada intellectual landmark.” – 2016 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize Jury (Nahlah Ayed, Megan Leslie, and Colby Cosh)

2012 Finalist

Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction
for Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes

Jury Citation

“Despite its light-hearted tone, this beguiling memoir tells an intensely emotional story of one family’s eroded dreams – a narrative that also brings to life six decades of turbulence in the Middle East. Born in Yemen, the youngest of eleven siblings, the author develops a taste for Western freedom during a few years spent in Cairo. But as violence in the Arab world grows, the family must move again, and the author faces a bitter choice: to stay with his family, and watch their lives diminish under a repressive regime, or to leave them behind for a new life in the West. His account of that journey is unembellished and heartbreaking.” – 2012 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction Jury (James Bartleman, Charlotte Gill, and Marni Jackson)