Symposium brings together novelists of Portuguese heritage

Anthony de Sa, author of the critically acclaimed Barnacle Love, is among four authors gathering Thursday for a symposium celebrating fiction from the Portuguese diaspora.

Narratives of the Portuguese Diaspora: Emigration & Identity is presented by York’s new Portuguese Studies Program. It takes place March 25 in 280N York Lanes at 4:30pm.

Left: Anthony de Sa

The symposium aims to draw attention to York’s new Portuguese Studies Program and create awareness of the Portuguese-Canadian contribution to the cultural vibrancy of Toronto, says Maria Joao Dodman, program chair and professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics.

It opens with a keynote speech by Onésimo Almeida, a professor of Portuguese cultural and intellectual history at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He will give a talk titled "On the Azorean Western Islands Scattered Throughout North America – From Life To Literature". Almeida was born in the Azores and educated in Portugal and the United States. Many of his more than 20 books focus on the Portuguese–American experience.

Almeida’s talk will be followed by a round-table discussion by four authors:

  • Paulo da Costa is a writer, editor and translator raised in Portugal and living in British Columbia. His first book of fiction, The Scent of a Lie, received the 2003 Commonwealth First Book Prize for the Canada-Caribbean Region and the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. He has published a book of poetry, Notas de Rodapé, in Portuguese and is the recipient of the 2003 ProVerbo Prize. His work has been translated into Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Serbian, Slovenian and Portuguese.
  • Nelsa Roberto is a Toronto-based teen-fiction writer whose debut novel, Illegally Blonde, was released this month. The coming-of-age story focuses on a girl who discovers her parents are illegal immigrants who may be deported back to Portugal.
  • Anthony de Sa grew up in Toronto’s Portuguese community. His first novel Barnacle Love was a finalist for the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2009 Toronto Book Award. His upcoming novel Carnival of Desire, to be released next year, is set in 1977, the year a 12-year-old Portuguese shoeshine boy was murdered in Toronto.
  • Rachel Sa is an award-winning writer whose columns have appeared in the Toronto Sun since 1998 and were collected for republication in What Rachel Sa: A Field Guide for Parents in 2002. She recently completed a young adult manuscript, The Big Box.

The symposium will close with the launch of Emigração em Dó Maior, a book by Fátima Toste and Ana Sánça.