find something to read by:


Anthony De Sa

Website: AnthonyDeSa.com

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. He lives in Toronto with his wife and three sons.

Short story collections

Barnacle Love (Doubleday Canada, 2008) 

Shortlisted for the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize for Fiction

Reviewed by Annie Clarkson

Interview with Anthony De Sa

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Anthony De Sa: All told, the process took four years. It’s quite difficult juggling family life with my wife and three young boys, a teaching career and writing books on the side, although it never quite felt like I was “writing on the side”. Often it felt like everything else played second fiddle to delivering a manuscript I was proud of.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

ADS: Yes! In fact, one publisher offered to bid on the partial manuscript only if I decided to change the linked collection into a novel. I said no. My intent was always that these stories should stand on their own but be closely linked so that they read like a novel. Let’s call it a novel of short stories, for the sake of all those out there still trying to grapple with how Barnacle Love should be defined.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

ADS: I wrote the first two stories, Of God and Cod and Reason to Blame in that order. I returned to the manuscript a year later with an additional story that began to haunt me, The Shoeshine Boy. I instinctively knew that this story was the “glue” that would hold all the others together. Now I had to write these other stories that would give meaning to the tumultuous time, before and after, the brutal murder in 1977 of Emanuel Jaques.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

ADS:  Everything! Craft should never, in my opinion, undermine or sacrifice the pleasure of living in the story.

TSR: Do you have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?

ADS:  No, although I must confess I was very conscious at one point as to how the ethnic communities addressed in my collection would react to the stories and the people that inhabit the world I created. I do believe that if you have an audience in mind, and it’s a “generous” and mainstream audience, you can sell many books. But, I think all great books have an integrity that is clearly defined by the author and their vision for their work.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?

ADS: Not really. I think I’ve brought something to the table. Anyone who chooses to read Barnacle Love brings their own unique perspective to the characters and to their situation. If anything, I would hope they leave feeling a bit changed in that the world they live in is somehow new or more clearly defined.

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

ADS: I remember this spring when I saw my book in a bookstore for the first time. My son, Oliver, pointed it out and it was his pride in it being there that the thing became real. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that people are reading your book, either enjoying it or hating it. Mediocrity is a reaction that concerns me.

TSR: What are you working on now?

ADS: The Shoeshine Boy is now being developed into a full novel, tentatively titled Carnival of Desire. For a summary visit my website.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

ADS:  Natasha and Other Stories by David Bezmozgis; Olympia by Dennis Bock; The Lady with the Little Dog and Other Stories by Anton Chekhov