“An hour with…” is a literary conversation at the Institut du monde arabe in Paris, to discover and listen to Arabic and Francophone authors from the Arab world, or speaking about it. On October 14 at 6.30 pm, come to discover Canadian author Kamal Al-Solaylee, for a dive into his latest novel “Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes” (Éditions Perspective cavalière)!
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.
The memoirs of Kamal Al-Solaylee, the youngest of eleven children, not only trace the journey of a young man who discovers himself to be homosexual in a radicalising Middle East, they also evoke the intolerable fate of a family left behind, at the other extreme. The noose keeps tightening in this post-colonial Yemen, hit hard by the crisis of the Arab world, then by the civil war and by the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe.
Born in Aden in 1964, Kamal Al-Solaylee emigrated to Canada in 1996. He became a journalist for the Globe and Mail and then a professor at Ryerson University in Toronto. He has published three books, Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes (2012), Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means—to Everyone (2016) and Return: Why We Go Back to Where We Come From (2021). He is currently Director of the School of Journalism, Writing and Communication at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
The Canadian Cultural Centre is a partner of this literary conversation.