Intolerable by Kamal Al-Solaylee is a memoir that details the author’s life experiences living in the Middle East from the 1960’s all the way to his life in the 2000’s living as a gay man in Toronto, Canada.
I rarely read non-fiction, unless it’s a required reading for school and probably only read this because it was on the Canada Reads 2015 Shortlist. The author has an incredible story to tell and I loved the last half of the book more than the first. What’s most interesting is the author realizing, as a young adult, the steps he needs to take if he wants to live somewhere more tolerant. I also loved that not only does the author touch on his own experiences and realizations, but he also delves a bit into the history of his parents and from times as a child that he wouldn’t remember, but his older siblings do. I personally found the writing ordinary and didn’t enjoy the introduction but this a great, short read for both the fiction and non-fiction reader. It’s a book that sheds a lot of light on the Middle East and great for informing the reader on things they might not have known or were ignorant of.
This account of childhood lived in an unstable part of the world, including the nascence of radical islamization and its influence on the whole region, also portrays a family caught in all the turmoil. From the Western-style intellectuals most of the family members devolve into devout Muslims with the men basking in their male superiority and the women losing their freedom. To be born a homosexual into such an environment is to be in constant danger of exemplary punishment if not death. Al Solaylee describes his ever-present anguish and his determination to find freedom from persecution. I give this book a 5-star rating for its information value.
Definitely surprised to find this written by a PHD in English...given the poor writing style, unnecessary repetitions and uneven editing.
I found this book a study of navel gazing by a narcissistic youngest child of a large family. Complaining of his father's lack of work, in his later life, and his living off his daughters' earnings; while the author appears to have done the same thing.
Interesting that the author is gay, and this would certainly be a challenge in such trying environments, whether the individual is Muslim or secular, but the whole story seemed unfocused, and like one long whine.
Also for someone calling themselves a Canadian journalist and at points an art writer and critic- the comments about his gratitude to Canada ring hollow, especially the comment : he so wanted to refocus his life as a Canadian, that he would even "watch made-in-Canada movies and TV dramas-most of which I found utterly cold and soulless, but at least they were Canadian". Huh?
Enjoyed this more than I expected to.
This is an extremely readable book. It gives meaning and understanding to the political situations in Beirut, Cairo and present day Yemen. It deepened my understanding of the rigid Muslim response to homosexuality. Read this book if you want to broaden your understanding of the Middle East, the subjugation of women there, and how this is entwined with the concept of family.
A comprehensible look at the Middle East from the post-colonial era to the Arab Spring through the experiences of one family; An interesting and important story to be told.
Not a good choice for me. I found this book repetitive and unfocused. The author completely failed to gain my interest. If anything, I felt quite critical of him by the time I finished the book. The story did have one redeeming quality for me. It was helpful in understanding the rise of fundamental religion in the Middle East. It would have been best if he had just focused on that aspect of the book. A disappointing choice for Canada Reads.
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