School of Journalism, Writing, and Media
Research / Teaching Area
PhD in English Literature, Nottingham University, England, 1996
MA in Twentieth Century British Fiction, Keele University, 1990
Kamal Al-Solaylee is the author of the national bestselling memoir Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes which won the 2013 Toronto Book Award and was a finalist for the CBC’s Canada Reads, the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, the Lambda Literary Award for memoir/biography and the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Nonfiction. His second book, Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone), was hailed as “brilliant” by The Walrus magazine and “essential reading” by the Globe and Mail. It was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards for Nonfiction, the Trillium Book Award and won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. Return, his third book of nonfiction, will be published in September 2021.
His nonfiction books mix geopolitics, personal narrative with deep reporting. He has reported from 20 countries around the world, including Taiwan, Qatar, France, Britain, Jamaica, Malaysia, Egypt, Israel, Spain, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and the United States.
Kamal began his career as an arts and culture journalist in 1997 in Toronto. In 2003 he became national theatre critic at the Globe and Mail. He has written reviews and features on arts and politics for all major Canadian publications, including Toronto Star, National Post, The Walrus, Toronto Life, Quill & Quire and Literary Review of Canada.
He’s a sought-after public speaker conferences and literary festivals in Canada and beyond and is a regular contributor to various TV and radio programs on Canadian and international networks. He has severed on several literary juries, including the Giller Prize, Canada’s top fiction award, and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award.
He’s a two-time nominee for Canada’s National Magazine Awards in the column category, winning the Gold medal in 2019. He’s also a finalist for the Allan Slaight Prize for Journalism in 2018.
He holds a PhD in English from Nottingham University. For the past 14 years, he’s been a professor at Ryerson University’s School of Journalism. He has taught at the theatre departments of both York University and Waterloo University, Ontario.
Literary nonfiction, race and representation, migration studies
- Return: Why We Go Back to Where We Come From, HarperCollins Canada, forthcoming (Sept. 7, 2021)
- Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone), HarperCollins Canada, 2016
- Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes, HarperCollins Canada, 2012
II: Books Edited
- Tonight at the Tarragon: A Critic’s Anthology, Playwrights Canada Press, 2011
- Best Canadian Essays 2010 (with Alex Boyd), Tightrope Books, 2010
- East Lynne by Mrs. Henry Wood (with Norman Page), Everyman Paperbacks, 1994
- Mad Monkton and Other Stories (with Norman Page), Oxford University Press, 1993
III: Chapters in Books
- “Tongue-tied,” Tongues: On Longing and Belonging Through Language, Book*Hug Press, forthcoming (Oct. 26, 2021)
- “Hanna and Saeid’s Story,”Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer, Coach House Press, 2017
- “From Bikinis to Burkas: A Yemeni Memoir,” Canadian Content 7th Edition, Nelson Education Ltd., 2011
- “Too Poor to Send Flowers: The State of Canadian Theatre,” Best Canadian Essays 2009, Tightrope Books, 2009
- “Theatre and Dance in Toronto,” Time Out Guide to Toronto, Penguin Books Ltd., 2002
IV: Select Journalism (2012-2020)
- “Reckoning with the Science of Sleeplessness,” Sharp magazine, May 2020. Column.
- “The Silent Struggle of Losing Your Native Tongue,” Sharp magazine, Oct. 2019. Column.
- “Get Comfortable with the Things You Can’t do,” Sharp magazine, June 2019. Column.
- “How Queer Muslims are Rewriting their Stories,” The Globe and Mail, June 2019. Essay and book review.
- “Swearing,” Sharp magazine, April 2019. Column.
- “The Case for Forgoing Fatherhood,” Sharp magazine, Oct. 2018. Column.
- “All Our Relation: Finding the Path Forward,” Quill & Quire, Oct. 2018. Book Review.
- “The Unspeakable Suffering in Yemen…,” The Globe and Mail, June 2018. Essay.
- “Unwelcome to Canada,” The Walrus, April 2018. Feature story.
- “Pay No Heed to the Rockets,” Quill & Quire, April 2018. Book Review
- “This Land Is Our Land,” Sharp magazine, Dec. 2017. Column.
- “Open Borders Are Making Canada a Global Leader — Let’s Not Close Them,” Sharp magazine, Oct. 2017. Column.
- “A Golden-Brown Age: Re-reading Shyam Selvadurai’s A Funny Boy,” Canadian Notes & Queries, Oct. 2017. Essay.
- “In Search of a Better World: A Human Rights Odyssey,” Quill & Quire, Sept. 2017. Book review.
- “What It’s Like to Be All-American, Brown and Muslim After 9/11,” Maclean’s, June 2017. Q&A.
- “The Clothesline Swing,” Quill & Quire, June 2017. Book review.
- “The Refugee ‘Welcome Kit’ Nods to a Kinder Canada — and a Harsher World,” The Walrus, Feb. 2017. Essay.
- “Roads Through Time: The Story of Humanity on the Move,” Quill & Quire, Feb. 2017. Book Review.
- “Anti-Muslim Hate Has Been in Canada — and our Politics — Long Before the Violence,” The Globe and Mail, Jan. 2017. Op-ed.
- “The Atheist Muslim Is a Passionate, Timely but Ultimately Muddled Plea for Reform in Islam,” The Globe and Mail, Nov. 2016. Book review.
- “Digital Connections Relay News from the War in Yemen. But Calls to Family Bring Home the Humanity,” OpenCanada.org, Nov. 2016. Essay.
- “Don’t Kid Yourself: It Was All About Race,” The Globe and Mail, Nov. 2016. Op-ed.
- “Nostalgia by M. J. Vassanji,” Quill & Quire, Oct. 2016. Book review.
- “Water Gives Way to Desert Sand in Kevin Patterson’s Sophomore Novel,” Quill & Quire, Sept. 2016. Feature.
- “The Nasty Trick that Racialization Plays on People of Colour,” TVO.org, July 2016. Column.
- “Notes on Writing,” Event: Poetry and Prose, Summer 2016. Essay.
- “Cordelia Strube’s On the Shores of Darkness,” Canadian Notes & Queries, Summer 2016. Book review.
- “Gender Neutral: Shining Light Where the Sun Don’t Shine,” Literary Review of Canada, May 2016. Book review.
- “Yemen: The War the World Is Ignoring,” The Globe and Mail, April 2016. Op-ed.
- “Internationally Acclaimed Debut Novelist Kim Fu Returns to Her Poetic Roots,” Quill & Quire, April 2016. Feature.
- “Suffering’s Second Act: Feel-good Stories About Refugees Mask the Struggles that Lie Ahead,” The Walrus, March 2016. Essay.
- “Yemen Runs Through My Veins,” The Globe and Mail, March 2015. Op-ed.
- “What You Don’t See When You Look Back,” Canadian Notes & Queries (CNQ), Fall/Winter 2014. Essay.
- “Marcello Di Cintio’s New Journey,” Quill & Quire, Dec. 2014. Feature.
- “Ramin Jahanbegloo: Engaging Minds,” Quill & Quire, Sept. 2014. Feature.
- “The Comeback: How Aboriginals Are Reclaiming Power and Influence,” Quill & Quire, Dec. 2014. Book review.
- “My October by Claire Holden Rothman,” Quill & Quire, July 2014. Book review.
- “Clyde by David Helwig,” Quill & Quire, March 2014. Book review.
- “Helium by Jaspreet Singh,” Quill & Quire, December 2013. Book review.
- “The Memoirist Guilt,” Huffington Post, Sept. 2013. Essay.
- “Insatiable Spirits: How Disappointment and Desire Haunt Us,” Literary Review of Canada, June 2013. Book review.
- “Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz,” Quill & Quire, May 2013. Book review.
- “Teaching Hatred: In Some Hard-Pressed Countries, Education May Not Be the Answer,” Literary Review of Canada, Oct. 2012. Book review.
- “Elle First: Pop Crush,” Elle Canada, May 2012. Essay.
- Winner: Gold Medal, Columns, National Magazine Awards, 2019, for “Points of Departure” columns in Sharp magazine
- Winner: Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, Writers’ Trust of Canada, 2017 for Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone)
- Winner: Most Inspiring Professor, Ryerson Journalism Course Union, 2014
- Winner: Toronto Book Award, City of Toronto, 2013 for Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes
- Finalist: National Magazine Awards, Columns, 2020, for “Points of Departure,” Sharp magazine
- Finalist: The Allan Slaight Prize for Journalism, 2018, for “Unwelcome to Canada,” The Walrus
- Finalist: Trillium Book Awards, Ontario Creates, 2017 (Brown)
- Finalist: Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction, 2016 (Brown)
- Finalist: Canada Reads, CBC, 2015 (Intolerable)
- Finalist: Edna Staebler Prize for Creative Nonfiction, 2013 (Intolerable)
- Finalist: Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir/Biography, Lambda Literary (U.S.), 2013 (Intolerable)
- Finalist: OLA Forest of Reading Evergreen Award, Ontario Library Association, 2013 (Intolerable)
- Finalist: Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, Writers’ Trust of Canada, 2012 (Intolerable)
- Honourable Mention: Patrick O’Neill Award for Best Edited Collection of Plays or Essays in Canada, Canadian Association of Theatre Research, 2013, for Tonight at the Tarragon: A Critic’s Anthology
Supervised in excess of 22 MRPs at Ryerson University’s Master of Journalism program