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Kamal Al-Solaylee



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 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 and “essential reading” by the Globe and Mail. It was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction, the Trillium Book Award and won the Writers’ Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. Brown is reported from ten different countries, including Canada. Both books draw on his skills as a storyteller and ability to synthesize complex social and political issues into accessible narratives.

His ten years as a theatre critic, first at Eye Weekly and then at the Globe and Mail, honed his sense of drama. He has written reviews and features on film, television and culture for all major Canadian publications, including Toronto Star, National Post, The Walrus, Toronto Life, Chatelaine, Elle Canada, the Literary Review of Canada and Quill & Quire.

Kamal holds a PhD in English Literature from Nottingham University and is a professor of journalism and creative nonfiction at Ryerson University. He was the 2018 Jury Chair for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and has served as a juror for the First Novel Award as well as CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize. In 2019 he was one of three finalists for the Allan Slaight Prize for Journalism and the winner of the Gold Medal at the National Magazine Awards for his column “Point of Departure” in Sharp magazine.

Guidelines for Submissions

Along with public lectures, Kitchener Public Library's Edna Staebler Writer-in-Residence meets with local unpublished authors to discuss a sample of their writing.

There are a limited number of these one-on-one opportunities. Please read the guidelines below to find out how you may qualify.

  • Authors of any age, living in Southwestern Ontario, who have not been published (with compensation), are welcome to apply. Self-published authors may also apply.
  • Applications will be accepted between Monday, November 2 at 9 am and Monday, November 16 at 7 pm.
  • Writer-in-Residence Kamal Al-Solaylee will review all applications and select up to 30 authors. If you are selected, the library will invite you to submit a manuscript. Selected participants will be scheduled for a thirty-minute appointment with Mr. Al-Solaylee.

Important notes:

  • Only the 30 selected authors will be contacted. The selected authors will be contacted by early January 2021.
  • Appointments will take place between mid-January through the end of February 2021, based on Mr. Al-Solaylee's schedule. The format of the meetings (online or in-person) will be determined at a later date.
  • Applicants must be available for an in-person meeting (Kitchener - Central branch) or online appointment via Zoom, dependent on public health protocols.
  • Do not submit a manuscript with your application. If selected for a one-on-one meeting, we will contact you to ask you to submit your manuscript at that time.
  • If selected, your manuscript must be submitted within 3 days of being contacted.
  • We cannot field inquiries about submissions over the telephone.

Manuscript submissions must meet the following criteria:

  • Maximum 2500 words.
  • Work of nonfiction only.
  • Numbered pages that include your last name (e.g. Smith - page 3).


Please email Sheila Bauman, Events Planner at

The Library reserves the right to limit the number of manuscripts accepted.  Submissions not adhering to the criteria will not be considered.  The Kitchener Public Library is not responsible for returning manuscripts.

Public Lectures

Over the course of four lectures, author, critic and journalism professor Kamal Al-Solaylee will take participants on a guided tour of writing narrative nonfiction for general-interest magazines and books. He’ll start with developing and writing a pitch (or query letter) for a feature in the first lecture and end with crafting a detailed proposal for a nonfiction book in the fourth. In between, Al-Solaylee will guide his audience toward reporting, structuring and writing a complete feature story in the second lecture, and identifying and writing a personal essay or memoir piece in the third. Taken together, the four lectures will act as a beginners’ guide to the world of nonfiction writing for a general audience with little or no prior experience.

Lectures will be hosted virtually via Zoom. Registration is required to attend each lecture. Click the event title for information on how to register.

Pitch Perfect
Thursday, October 15 at 7 pm

We all have ideas for what may make a good magazine feature but what’s the story you’re telling? And whose story are you centering? Once you’ve identified that story, what are the best ways of selling it to an editor at a general-interest magazine?

Building on Existing Structures
Wednesday, October 28 at 7 pm

How to report, structure and write a midsize (2000 to 3000) magazine feature with a strong point of view and an authorial voice. Learn about opening scenes, character and argument development as well as narrative breaks and flare.

The Me in Memoir: Getting Personal
Thursday, November 12 at 7 pm

Personal essays and memoir pieces are great genres to explore pressing social issues and to put into words (and into the world) the contours of your life experience. In this lecture, we’ll explore why personal writing is enjoying a golden age and how to lend shape to the chaos and frictions of life.

Do I Hear a Proposal?
Wednesday, November 25 at 7 pm

Should you be interested in developing either the feature story or your personal essay into a larger narrative (i.e. a book), then the first step you should explore is a complete proposal for a nonfiction book that you or your agent can shop around publishing houses.

About the Writer in Residence Program

Established in 1996 by acclaimed author and library advocate Edna Staebler, the Writer-in-Residence program is intended to provide local writers with the expertise needed to develop their craft, as well as encouragement to "keep at it".

Thanks to Edna Staebler's generous financial endowment, we are able to invite Canadian authors of significance to participate in the program. Each author provides a series of workshops at our libraries that are open to the public. During the program, local writers are invited to apply to have their work reviewed by the Writer-in-Residence.

Past Writers-in-Residence at KPL have included:

  • Camilla Gibb
  • Kelley Armstrong
  • Joy Fielding
  • Kenneth Oppel
  • Nino Ricci
  • Trevor Cole 
  • Elizabeth Ruth    
  • Robert J. Sawyer
  • Wayson Choy     
  • Lyn Hamilton
  • Andrew Pyper
  • Kathy Stinson    
  • John B. Lee
  • Welwyn Wilton Katz
  • Betty Jane Wylie
  • Jack Batten
  • Veronica Ross
  • Janet Lund