Intolerable by Kamal Al-Solaylee
A Memoir of Extremes

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Al-Solaylee explains his siblings’ condition in secular, material terms...
-National Post arts

Synopsis

In the 1960s, Kamal Al-Solaylee’s father was one of the wealthiest property owners in Aden, in the south of Yemen, but when the country shrugged off its colonial roots, his properties were confiscated, and the family was forced to leave. The family moved first to Beirut, which suddenly became one of the most dangerous places in the world, then Cairo. After a few peaceful years, even the safe haven of Cairo struggled under a new wave of Islamic extremism that culminated with the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. The family returned to Yemen, a country that was then culturally isolated from the rest of the world.

As a gay man living in an intolerant country, Al-Solaylee escaped first to England and eventually to Canada, where he became a prominent journalist and academic. While he was enjoying the cultural and personal freedoms of life in the West, his once-liberal family slowly fell into the hard-line interpretations of Islam that were sweeping large parts of the Arab-Muslim world in the 1980s and 1990s. The differences between his life and theirs were brought into sharp relief by the 2011 revolution in Egypt and the civil war in Yemen.

Intolerable is part memoir of an Arab family caught in the turmoil of Middle Eastern politics over six decades, part personal coming-out narrative and part cultural analysis. This is a story of the modern Middle East that we think we know so much about.

 

About Kamal Al-Solaylee

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KAMAL AL-SOLAYLEE, an assistant professor and undergraduate program director at the School of Journalism at Ryerson University, was previously a distinguished writer at Canada?s national newspaper The Globe and Mail. Al-Solaylee also worked at Report on Business magazine and has written features and reviews for the Toronto Star, National Post, The Walrus, Toronto Life, Chatelaine, EYE WEEKLY, Literary Review of Canada and ELLE Canada. Al-Solaylee holds a PhD from the University of Nottingham and has taught at the University of Waterloo and York University. Al-Solaylee lives in Toronto.
 
Published May 15, 2012 by HarperCollins Publishers. 224 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Education & Reference, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Intolerable
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Globe and Mail

Excellent
Reviewed by Matthew Hays on May 25 2012

While family memoirs are often drenched in anguish, Kamal Al-Solaylee’s Intolerable takes the genre to a new level.

Read Full Review of Intolerable: A Memoir of Extr... | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Roland Elliott Brown on Jul 27 2012

Al-Solaylee explains his siblings’ condition in secular, material terms...

Read Full Review of Intolerable: A Memoir of Extr... | See more reviews from National Post arts

National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Roland Elliott Brown on Jul 27 2012

Should historians come to chronicle the struggle between Heaven and Earth, they may find use for memoirs like Kamal Al-Solaylee’s, which explain how it rends families and nations.

Read Full Review of Intolerable: A Memoir of Extr... | See more reviews from National Post arts

Reader Rating for Intolerable
67%

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