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CanLit150

Celebrate more than 150 years of Canada with 150 books.

Lesley Krueger Recommends

Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (To Everyone) by Kamal Al-Solaylee

“Brown was shortlisted for the 2016 Governor General’s Award for English language non-fiction and won the 2017 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, among many other honours. But that doesn’t mean everyone has read it, and they should. Al-Solaylee explores a truly Canadian subject touching all of our lives: what it’s like being read as in between, not belonging, yet a part. Or to put it another way, al-Solaylee’s book explores the clash between being apart and a part. And we all need to think about that.” – Lesley Krueger

Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (To Everyone)

(From HarperCollins Canada)

With the urgency and passion of Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me), the seductive storytelling of J.D. Vance (Hillbilly Elegy) and the historical rigour of Carol Anderson (White Rage), Kamal Al-Solaylee explores the in-between space that brown people occupy in today’s world: on the cusp of whiteness and the edge of blackness. Brown proposes a cohesive racial identity and politics for the millions of people from the Global South and provides a timely context for the frictions and anxieties around immigration and multiculturalism that have led to the rise of populist movements in Europe and the election of Donald Trump.

At once personal and global, Brown is packed with storytelling and on-the-street reporting conducted over two years in ten countries on four continents that reveals a multitude of lives and stories from destinations as far apart as the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, the United States, Britain, Trinidad, France, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Qatar and Canada. It features striking research about the emergence of brown as the colour of cheap labor and the pursuit of a lighter skin tone as a global status symbol. As he studies the significance of brown skin for people from North Africa and the Middle East, Mexico and Central America, and South and East Asia, Al-Solaylee also reflects on his own identity and experiences as a brown-skinned person (in his case from Yemen) who grew up with images of whiteness as the only indicators of beauty and success.

This is a daring and politically resonant work that challenges our assumptions about race, immigration and globalism and recounts the heartbreaking stories of the people caught in the middle.

Kamal Al-Solaylee

(From HarperCollins Canada)

Kamal Al-Solaylee, an associate professor at the School of Journalism at Ryerson University, was previously a distinguished writer at Canada’s national newspaper The Globe and Mail. Al-Solaylee also worked at Report on Business magazine and has written features and reviews for the Toronto StarNational PostThe WalrusToronto LifeChatelaineeye weekly, the Literary Review of Canada and Elle Canada. Al Solaylee’s bestselling memoir Intolerable was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, and Canada Reads, and won the Toronto Book Award. Brown is a finalist for the Governor General's Award for Literary Non-fiction. Al-Solaylee holds a PhD from the University of Nottingham and has taught at the University of Waterloo and York University. Al-Solaylee lives in Toronto.