Anthony De Sa Answers the Hungry Novelist Questionnaire

Anthony De Sa is the author of the Giller-prize-nominated short story collection Barnacle Love and is also a high school English teacher in Toronto.

Website: www.anthonydesa.com
Blog: on website
On Twitter? Yes. My username is antiole

What’s going on in your writing life right now?
I’m working on the final edits (fingers crossed stressing final) of my new novel, Carnival of Desire.

What’s your writing routine?
I work full time, and I’m married with three young children. My routine is simply, I write when I can.

What do you usually eat for breakfast?
I don’t eat breakfast. I never have. Does a large cup of coffee count?

What good books have you read recently?
Over the summer I read a wonderful book, Life After Genius, by M. Ann Jacoby. I’m just about finished with Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table. But I must say I’m very excited about reading Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. I’m fascinated with magic.

What did you eat for dinner last night?
My wife and I took the boys out to dinner at Korea House, on Dundas St West. I had seafood Bibimbap. The place wasn’t much to look at but the food was very good.

Writing rules you live by:
1. Write it down when it comes to mind.
2. Read, read, and read some more.
3. Borrow the truth, it’ll never let you down.

Foodstuffs you’re fiending these days:
A friend of ours is getting involved with raw food at Make it Raw. I’ve had raw spring rolls that were incredible. I’m also obsessed with Falafel World’s Janina sandwiches: lentils, carmelized onions, roasted eggplant, humus, tabouli and hot sauce, wrapped in a pita.

A scene or piece you’ve written that features food:
Food is an important part of my writing because I write about the Portuguese community. My first book, Barnacle Love, opened the door to what it was like to be in a Portuguese home. I don’t shy away from my cultural tradition of butchering pigs in our garages and in our laneways, and I write about the smells associated with food—the way the smell of sardines on the grill wafted through our chain link fences, or how the smell of pot roasts mixed with cabbage and sweet potatoes stuck to our clothes and got absorbed into our carpets and walls and stayed there for days. It’s part of what we remember as family.

Favorite restaurants:
Terroni – 720 Queen Street West, Toronto
Bairrada Churrasqueira – 1000 College St. West (Food is good but the atmosphere during the summer months is unbeatable)
Husk Restaurant – 76 Queen St. Charleston, SC

The patio at Bairrada

Three formative books from your youth:
The Magic Bed-Knob by Mary Norton
The Hardy Boys (only because I wanted a brother so desperately) various ghostwriters published under the collective pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon.
Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Anderson
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler

Three formative books from your adulthood:
American Pastoral by Philip Roth
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Lives of the Saints by Nino Ricci

Dishes/recipes in regular rotation in your cooking repertoire:
Pasta with fresh tomato sauce (just finished canning four bushels)
Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá (Cod and potato casserole)
Caldo verde (potato and Collard green soup)

Random bits of writing advice:
Listen to those you trust.
Stay away from as many writing events as possible. [I particularly like this bit of advice – HN]
The cliché . . . write what you know.

What do you do when not writing, eating or reading?
Are you kidding me, Kim? There isn’t enough time in the day to walk the dog, go to work, come home and fix up something to eat, get the kids ready for soccer practice after school or help (yell at) them do their homework, get them ready for bed, do a bit of editing and then plop myself into bed before I’ve got to do the whole thing all over again. (I might sneak in a bit of T.V: Mad Men, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation)

What’s your idea of comfort food and comfort reading?
Thick soups or stews with lots of fresh crispy bread and butter to sop up the juices. Roast chicken and roast potatoes.
I like books that take me away to a place that is foreign and exotic and yet the human drama is familiar. Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies, comes to mind.

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