Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Diaspora Dialogues, with Anthony De Sa

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 The Diaspora Dialogues, with Anthony De Sa

Maybe you've scavenged through a used book store in search of a favourite author, but at this year's The Word On The Street festival, you'll have the opportunity to be a literary scavenger—literally!

This Sunday, Sept. 26, The Diaspora Dialogues is hosting a literary scavenger hunt from one end of Queen's Park to the other. Stop by for a Sunday afternoon chase of literary clues, lines of poetry, personalized readings and other literary oddities. And of course, there are prizes! Intrigued? Visit the website for details.

In the meantime, Anthony De Sa, author of Barnacle Love (Doubleday, 2008) and one of the writers you'll find at the event, talks to Open Book about his own experience as a literary scavenger and his forthcoming book, Carnival of Desire (Doubleday, 2011).

Open Book:

How does your writing take part in the "diaspora dialogue" of Toronto's diverse literary culture?

Anthony De Sa:

Most of what interests me in writing deals with Toronto’s rich ethnic diversity, in particular the lives of Portuguese-Canadians and their place in Canadian culture. It excites me to enter into dialogue—the result of delving into a culture that has for the most part remained elusive in our collective literary tradition.


Can you think of a piece of writing you've done in which you've acted as a scavenger?


My most recent endeavor is in itself a great scavenger hunt. Because the story is set in Toronto in 1977, a great deal of my work has to do with “getting it right”—digging up old photographs and news stories of that time and trying to recreate an authenticity to time and place.


If you could travel to any place with the purpose of writing about it, where would it be and why?


Africa. In fact, it is clear that my interests are veering in that direction. Most of what fascinates me about that place stems from the stories I heard from family members who were there during the tumultuous time of Portuguese colonialism. This setting fascinates me and the ideas for a story are beginning to take shape.


What do you most enjoy about being a writer in Toronto?


It has everything I need as a writer—a world within a city.


Can you tell us a bit about your forthcoming novel, Carnival of Desire?


Carnival of Desire is set in 1977, the year a twelve-year-old shoeshine boy, Emanuel Jaques, was brutally raped and murdered in Toronto. The crime changed forever Toronto the Good and its Portuguese community, which was desperately searching for a clear sign from God during this trying time.

In the neighborhood’s dark garages and intricate labyrinth of backyard alleys, Antonio and his friends meet and develop a curious relationship with James, a twenty-year-old modern-day Fagan. A bohemian living in a rented garage, James is a fledgling master over an amoral world of young hustlers where theft, drugs and sex are seen as “just work, you know? It’s just about money.”

Over the course of a year, through the unraveling courtroom drama and media stories related to the Shoeshine Boy murder, as well as the unforgettable characters and events that affect Antonio, he becomes aware of all the dashed hopes of immigrants who came to Toronto seeking an affluent life, of the power of faith and the role of church, and of the terrifying confluence of power and desire that these elements fostered in his community.

Anthony De Sa grew up in Toronto’s Portuguese community. His short fiction has been published in several North American literary magazines. Barnacle Love is De Sa's first book. It was critically acclaimed and became a finalist for the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize. His novel, Carnival of Desire, slotted for a 2011 release, will be set in 1977, the year a twelve-year-old shoeshine boy named Emanuel Jaques was brutally raped and murdered in Toronto. De Sa graduated from University of Toronto and did his post-graduate work at Queen’s University. He attended The Humber School for Writers, Ryerson University and now heads the English department and directs the creative writing program at a high school for the arts. He lives in Toronto with his wife and three boys. Visit his website and blog at

Buy his book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

And don't forget to head to Queen's Park anytime between 11 a.m and 5 p.m this Sunday, Sept. 26th for The Word On The Street's Diaspora Dialogues Literary Scavenger Hunt!

1 comment

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