Kamal Al-Solaylee is the recipient of this year’s 2013 Toronto Book Award for his memoir, Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes. Al-Solaylee received the honour at an awards ceremony held at the Toronto Reference Library on October 9. This year marks the 39th anniversary of the Toronto Book Awards. Established by Toronto City Council in 1974, the Toronto Book Awards honour authors of books of literary or artistic merit that are evocative of Toronto. The annual awards offer $15,000 in prize money. Each finalist receives $1,000 and the winning author receives the remaining prize money.
The Toronto Book Awards Committee members commented on the winning book: “Intolerable is a moving portrayal of the inner turmoil and emotional complexities that Kamal Al-Solaylee experiences being gay and leaving his Arab family and culture behind to pursue a life free from religious and social stigmas. In Toronto, he finds a sense of acceptance, community and place. Set against the backdrop of conflict in the Middle East, he vividly portrays the sense of loss and sadness he feels as a result of the difficult choices he has had to make. It is a captivating and sensitively written memoir that explores the dynamics of family relationships, and the political and cultural influences that shape one’s life.”
Each of the four other finalists were also recognized at the event. They include Patrick Cummins (photos) and Shawn Micallef (text) for their annotated book of photography, Full Frontal T.O. (Coach House Books); Kevin Irie for his collection of poetry, Viewing Tom Thomson, A Minority Report (Frontenac House Poetry); Aga Maksimowska for her novel, Giant (Pedlar Press); and Katrina Onstad for her novel, Everybody has Everything (McClelland & Stewart).
For more information about the awards and what the jury members said about the shortlisted books, visit: