Anthony De Sa on the Intimate Allure of Dark Worlds

Anthony De Sa (Photo credit: Laura Bombier)

As part of 49th Shelf's annual Fest2Fest coverage, we continue to talk with authors appearing at literary festivals across the country. Anthony De Sa appears at the Vancouver Writers Fest.

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Yonge Street shoeshine boy Emanuel Jaques, of Portuguese descent, was sexually tortured and murdered by pedophiles in 1977. No longer Toronto the Good, communities divided while the media and police authorities looked for opportunities to confront the sexual politics of the LGBT community, which was only just beginning to enjoy a sense of social inclusivity.

Kicking the Sky, by Anthony De Sa (Doubleday Canada, 2013).

Anthony De Sa grew up amidst this turmoil as part of a cloistered Portuguese community and has now used Jaques' murder as the backdrop in his novel Kicking the Sky about a group of young boys, and tight-knit friends, on the cusp of adulthood.

Kicking the Sky was always going to speak to me as a reader because I came of age in the town in which two young women were tortured, then murdered, before the general public knew the names Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. Every car was assessed for make and model, teenaged girls, too: did they fit the profile of a plausible victim? Communities were divided. Fingers were pointed. Behaviours were demonized.

Kicking the Sky (Doubleday Canada) is De Sa's debut novel, the follow up to his Giller Prize-shortlisted short story collection Barnacle Love.

I spoke with De Sa via Skype about dark places, revisiting the past, and the surprising opportunity to discuss liberation against a backdrop of tragedy. We begin with his own memories of 1977 and how Emanuel Jaques' death was discussed around his home.

 

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Anthony De Sa grew up in Toronto’s Portuguese community. He attended the Humber School for Writers and now heads the English department and directs the creative writing program at Michael Power/St. Joseph High School. His first book, Barnacle Love, was a finalist for the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Toronto Book Award. His new novel is Kicking the Sky.

October 23, 2013
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