Shortlisted for the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize
Like Wayson Choy and David Bezmozgis before him, Anthony De Sa captures, in stories brimming with life, the innocent dreams and bitter disappointments of the immigrant experience.
At the heart of this collection of intimately linked stories is the relationship between a father and his son. A young fisherman washes up nearly dead on the shores of Newfoundland. It is Manuel Rebelo who has tried to escape the suffocating smallness of his Portuguese village and the crushing weight of his mother’s expectations to build a future for himself in a terra nova. Manuel struggles to shed the traditions of a village frozen in time and to silence the brutal voice of Maria Theresa da Conceicao Rebelo, but embracing the promise of his adopted land is not as simple as he had hoped.
Manuel’s son, Antonio, is born into Toronto’s little Portugal, a world of colourful houses and labyrinthine back alleys. In the Rebelo home the Church looms large, men and women inhabit sharply divided space, pigs are slaughtered in the garage, and a family lives in the shadow cast by a father’s failures. Most days Antonio and his friends take to their bikes, pushing the boundaries of their neighbourhood street by street, but when they finally break through to the city beyond they confront dangers of a new sort.
With fantastic detail, larger-than-life characters and passionate empathy, Anthony De Sa invites readers into the lives of the Rebelos and finds there both the promise and the disappointment inherent in the choices made by the father and the expectations placed on the son.
Anthony De Sa grew up in Toronto’s Portuguese community. His short fiction has been published in several North American literary magazines. He attended The Humber School for Writers and now heads the English department and directs the creative writing program at a high school for the arts. Barnacle Love is his first book and he is currently at work on a novel. He lives in Toronto with his wife and three sons.
“In Barnacle Love, a set of interlinked stories, Anthony Da Sa moves with skill and ingenuity between folk tale, myth and narratives of contemporary displacement. The tone is spare and elegiac; the stories are filled with carefully chosen details and sharply drawn characters. They have immense emotional and truthful power.”
"Barnacle Love is a beautiful debut, haunting and elegiac, capturing lives at once as grittily real and as mythic as the sea that forms them."
—Nino Ricci, author of Testament
"Anthony De Sa's dramatic immigrant history is revealed in this series of linked stories often operatic in their tragic proportions and folk-tale in structure. With emotional power, incidents veer daringly in mood from brutal to tender. Anthony De Sa writes of the unbreakable connections between the old and new worlds with a revelatory passion. I have no hesitation in saying his is an astonishing talent."
—Wayson Choy, author of All That Matters
"This collection of linked short stories speaks poignantly about the wrenchingly opposing forces that can tear a family apart." –Edmonton Journal
"A moving and engaging read, its memorable images and heart's woes sometimes visceral in their power." –The Globe and Mail
"A book of exceptional balance. Tender and raw, morbid and surprisingly gentle. [It] will stay with readers long after the closing pages." –The Vancouver Sun
"Poignant....Irresistible." –Toronto Star