10/09/2013 09:24 EDT | Updated 12/09/2013 05:12 EST

Kamal Al-Solaylee wins Toronto Book Award

Kamal Al-Solaylee has won the 2013 Toronto Book Award for his memoir Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes. 

The book recounts Al-Solaylee’s journey from growing up in the Middle East, coming out as a gay man, and eventually escaping religious extremism with the help of his mother.

Upon shortlisting the book for the annual prize, the judges praised Intolerable as “a story of prejudice, dislocation, courage and extraordinary achievement.”

“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,” the judges wrote.

Al-Solaylee has lived in Toronto for 17 years. He is a noted academic, theatre critic and an instructor at Ryerson University. He has worked for The Globe and Mail, Eye Weekly and National Post, among others.

The book is dedicated to Toronto. The annual prize recognizes books that are “evocative” of the city. 

The prize was presented Wednesday night at the Toronto Reference Library. 

The other books shortlisted this year were Full Frontal T.O. by Patrick Cummins and Shawn Micallef, Viewing Tom Thomson, A Minority Report by poet Kevin Irie, Giant by Aga Maksimowska and Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad.