Barnacle Love

Barnacle Love

Book - 2008
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Shortlisted for the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Like Wayson Choy and David Bezmozgis before him, Anthony De Sa captures, in stories brimming with life, the innocent dreams and bitter disappointments of the immigrant experience.

At the heart of this collection of intimately linked stories 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 to shed the traditions of a village frozen in time and to silence the brutal voice of Maria Theresa da Conceicao Rebelo, but embracing the promise of his adopted land is not as simple as he had 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, and a family lives in the shadow cast by a father's failures. Most days Antonio and his friends take to their bikes, pushing the boundaries of their neighbourhood street by street, but when they finally break through to the city beyond they confront dangers of a new sort.

With fantastic detail, larger-than-life characters and passionate empathy, Anthony De Sa invites readers into the lives of the Rebelos and finds there both the promise and the disappointment inherent in the choices made by the father and the expectations placed on the son.


From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, [2008]
Copyright Date: ©2008
ISBN: 9780385664370
9780385664363
Branch Call Number: DES
Characteristics: 216 pages ; 22 cm

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Cdnbookworm Nov 09, 2013

This novel was shortlisted for the Giller when it first came out. The story is in two parts: Terra Nova and Caged Birds Sing. Manuel Rebelo is from the Azores, and grew up in a small village with his mother and siblings. His father disappeared when he was very young and his mother, Maria Theresa de Conceição Rabelo, pinned the family hopes to him depriving his siblings to give him opportunities. Lucky for him, his siblings realized it was their mother driving a reluctant Manuel and did not resent him for this. Manuel, however, didn't want to stay in the village and be the success his mother envisioned. He wanted to escape and go elsewhere, and when he was old enough, he signed on as a fisherman to go to fish the banks near Newfoundland. Circumstances left him in Canada, and the second half of the book is several years later, where Manuel is living in Toronto with his wife Georgina and two children, Terri and Tony. Manuel is a bit of a dreamer, and some of his ambitious dreams don't get realized when he doesn't put the necessary effort in. An interesting story of a young man and his dreams versus the reality of his adult life.

b
Bearwomyn
Apr 24, 2013

Desolation. Not recommended. This started out juicy and interesting, set in the 50s in a Portuguese fishing village which in many ways had not yet joined this century. Concurrent challenge and charm. It was somewhat poetic and had semi-magikal escapes with tang. Then, quick as a whip, the hero turns bad-guy. His dreams are all trounced. Family arrives. He trounces all their dreams....Hero trounced. Elders trounced. Youngers, cousins, aunts, priests, nuns, neighbors, ALL TROUNCED. No, pero gracias. I do like to read cultural books, and don't mind reading hardships - voyages to new horizons etc. I can suffer along with the best of them. But I prefer to hear an outcome, or a lesson, or be handed even one kernel of hope....alas no. Not here. Nada ayi!!. Perhaps that was the moral....but I am sorry I spent time on it. I felt bone-tired when I was done.

t
tegan
Jun 13, 2012

Comment #1: First chapter...well, not so engaging so far. Another book club book pick, I would not have picked. The plot line is sad so far. I am going to give it two more chapters.

Comment #2: This book is not good, unless you like super depressing novels where characters just do not get ahead. Alcoholism, sexual abuse, neglect, death...not the themes I seek out in a novel.

I read the first 3 chapters and then 2 chapters later in the novel when the setting changes to Toronto - the novel does not get better.

l
lisahiggs
May 16, 2010

The Canadian immigrant experience seems to be captured so freshly within, preserving so much you can almost see it and smell it. My only dismay is that, as a collection of short stories, Barnacle Love is able to dance over gaps in the narrative in ways a novel couldn’t. The one big gap (why did Manuel falter in his dream when his immigrant relatives did not?) makes this book fall through the cracks for me.

m
macierules
Dec 05, 2009

Five stars to the first half of this book told from the perspective of Manuel Ribelo after being washed up on shore in Canada and his previous life in a small Portuguese village. I found the characters (especially his Mother) and story line all very captivating. I lost interest in the second half of the book narrated by his son - seemed like a tale that I've heard many times before describing immigrant experiences, loss of dreams, etc. Short-listed for the Giller Prize 2008.

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