The Bukowski Agency - Barnacle Love

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80,000 words
Finished books available


US: Algonquin, Aug 2010
Canada: Doubleday, Spring 2008
Portugal: Dom Quixote
Film: Nelly Furtado


Anthony De Sa
(Photo: Laura Bombier)

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.

Barnacle Love

by Anthony De Sa


Barnacle Love coverAnthony De Sa’s Barnacle Love captures the innocent dreams and bitter disappointments of the immigrant experience. At the heart of the book 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 hard to shed the traditions of a village frozen in time and to silence his mother’s brutal voice, but the promise of his adopted land is not as accessible as he’d 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, Barnacle Love - Portugese coverand the family lives in the shadow cast by Manuel’s failures. Most days Antonio and his friends take to their bikes, pushing the boundaries of their neighbourhood street by street. When they finally break through to the city beyond, they confront dangers ofa new sort.

With fantastic detail, larger-than-life characters and passionate empathy, Anthony De Sa explores the promise and the disappointment inherent in the choices made by the father and the expectations placed on the son. Barnacle Love takes the reader immediately and intimately into new worlds, from the isolated countryside of the Azores to bustling, multicultural Toronto. In this unfamiliar yet recognizable backdrop, De Sa writes a universal story: a jarring portrayal of an alcoholic father, the awakening of a city, and a coming-of-age story with a Barnacle Love - US coverglorious ending.


“…Although the book invites psychological analysis, its originality is anthropological, presented in descriptions of a Portuguese fishing community whose commonplace customs are retained even in a North American city.”  — NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

“… De Sa’s brooding debut illumines displacement and despair with glinting literary highlights.”  — KIRKUS REVIEWS

“…the two parts of this intelligent yet passionate novel merge seamlessly into a double-layered, twice as effective, doubly meaningful story … A beautiful musical piece stating and repeating its profoundly moving melody.”  — BOOKLIST, starred review

“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.”  — COLM TÓIBÍN

“[A] moving and engaging read, its memorable images and heart’s woes sometimes visceral in their power.”  — THE GLOBE AND MAIL

“This collection of linked short stories speaks poignantly about the wrenchingly opposing forces that can tear an immigrant family apart. … Unable either to fit in or stand out, [Manuel] is any immigrant, every immigrant, always reaching for a dream he cannot have, and never at home”  — OTTAWA CITIZEN

Barnacle Love is a magical work of fiction, a multi-generational tale of old and new worlds, of immigrant fathers and their born-in-Canada sons. Touching, illuminating, and sympathetic, it deserves to be on everyone's summer reading list.”  — THE OWEN SOUND SUN TIMES

Barnacle Love has the irresistible allure of familiarity and conviction.”  — TORONTO STAR

“Anthony De Sa's first novel, Barnacle Love, explores the pain and poetry of an immigrant's hopes with descriptions so rich they massage the senses. … [It] is a book of exceptional balance. It's tender and raw, morbid and surprisingly gentle. However, it is the palpable sadness of the Rebelo family that will stay with readers long after the closing pages.”  — THE VANCOUVER SUN

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


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