Kamal Al-Solaylee’s Featured Book

Tongues: On Longing and Belonging Through Language

In Tongues: On Longing and Belonging Through Language writers examine their intimate relationship with language in essays that are compelling and captivating.

There are over 200 mother tongues spoken in Canada, and at least 5.8 million Canadians use two or more languages at home. This vital anthology opens a dialogue about this unique language diversity and probes the importance of language in our identity and the ways in which it shapes us.

In this collection of deeply personal essays, twenty-six writers explore their connection with language, accents, and vocabularies, and contend with the ways they can be used as both bridge and weapon. Some explore the way power and privilege affect language learning, especially the shame and exclusion often felt by non-native English speakers in a white, settler, colonial nation. Some confront the pain of losing a mother tongue or an ancestral language along with the loss of community and highlight the empowerment that comes with reclamation. Others celebrate the joys of learning a new language and the power of connection. All underscore how language can offer transformation and collective healing to various communities.

With contributions by: Kamal Al-Solaylee, Jenny Heijun Wills, Karen McBride, Melissa Bull, Leonarda Carranza, Adam Pottle, Kai Cheng Thom, Sigal Samuel, Rebecca Fisseha, Logan Broeckaert, Taslim Jaffer, Ashley Hynd, Jagtar Kaul Atwal, Téa Mutonji, Rowan McCandless, Sahar Golshan, Camila Justino, Amanda Leduc, Ayelet Tsabari, Carrianne Leung, Janet Hong, Danny Ramadan, Sadiqa de Meijer, Jónína Kirton, and Eufemia Fantetti.

Buy the Book:
Owl’s Nest Books (Calgary) | Shelf Life Books (Calgary) | Audreys Books (Edmonton) | Glass Bookshop (Edmonton) | Flying Books (Ontario) | Massy Books (B.C.) | Indigo

Borrow the Book from the Library:
Calgary Public Library

Kamal Al-Solaylee’s Other Book

Return: Why We Go Back to Where We Come From

Drawing on extensive reporting from around the world and astute political analysis, Return: Why We Go Back to Where We Come From illuminates a personal quest. Kamal Al-Solaylee, author of the bestselling and award-winning Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes and Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (for Everyone), yearns to return to his homeland of Yemen, now wracked by war, starvation, and daily violence, to reconnect with his family. Yemen, as well as Egypt, another childhood home, call to him, even though he ran away from them in his youth and found peace and prosperity on the calm shores of Toronto.

In Return, Al-Solaylee interviews dozens of people who have chosen to or long to return to their homelands, from the Basques to the Irish to the Taiwanese. The author does make a return of sorts himself, to the Middle East, visiting Israel and the West Bank as well as Egypt to meet up with his sisters. His Arabic stilted and his mannerisms foreign, Al-Solaylee finds that the English language and Western customs are now his only cultural currency.

Return is a chronicle of love and loss, of global reach and personal desires. It sets the narrative of going home against geopolitical forces that are likely to shape the rest of this century and beyond. It’s a book for anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to return to their roots.

Buy the Book:
Owl’s Nest Books (Calgary) | Shelf Life Books (Calgary) | Audreys Books (Edmonton) | Glass Bookshop (Edmonton) | Flying Books (Ontario) | Massy Books (B.C.) | Indigo

Borrow the Book from the Library:
Calgary Public Library

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