Toronto teacher short-listed for Giller prize

  • October 31, 2008
{mosimage}TORONTO - Catholic high school teacher Anthony de Sa is receiving high marks for his first book of short stories. It’s been short-listed for the lucrative Giller Prize.

The 40-year-old father of three and head of the English department at Toronto’s Father John Redmond Catholic High School said he was completely caught off guard when he heard the news in early October.
“It was a strange feeling — a mixed bag of emotions: thrilled, frightened, happy, confused, shocked, elated,” De Sa said in an e-mail from Lisbon, Portugal, where he is attending an international writers’ conference until the end of October.

De Sa’s book, Barnacle of Love, is the only short story collection to be nominated for the award this year. It explores the life of a Portuguese family living in Toronto’s Little Portugal. De Sa said the idea for the book stems from the 1977 brutal murder of a young shoeshine boy in Toronto.

{sa 0385664370}The inspiration for writing the book began during de Sa’s year away from teaching. He enrolled in a creative writing course at Humber College when he said he found himself “unprepared for that luxury of time.” His wife, he added, encouraged him to give it a try.

And being a Catholic school teacher has also helped in his writing.

“It has given me the faith to pursue all the things I think are now possible. I work with a community of Catholic teachers that inspire me every day — in the love they bring to their students and their classrooms and in the spirit in which they offer me support as a writer,” he said.

De Sa is currently working on his next novel, but says, “I will always teach.”

He added that he hopes to combine both of his passions for creative writing and teaching.

“My hope is to somehow combine both — to be offered the opportunity to teach creative writing in a high school that supports the creative talents of our youth, would be my dream.”

The Giller Prize is Canada’s most lucrative literary prize, with $50,000 going to the winner. Writers on the short list receive $5,000. It is awarded to the author of best English Canadian novel or short-story collection. The annual award was established in 1994 by Jack Rabinovich, in honour of his late wife, journalist Doris Giller.

The winner will be announced on Nov. 11 at a gala dinner in Toronto.

Past winners have included Alice Munro, Rohinton Mistry and Mordecai Richler.

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.