The Next Chapter

Anthony De Sa's Children of the Moon looks at love in a difficult time

The Toronto author on writing his latest novel.
Anthony De Sa is the author of Children of the Moon. (CBC)
Listen3:41

Anthony De Sa is a past Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist whose previous books include Kicking the Sky and Barnacle Love

His latest work, the novel Children of The Moon, is a story of love and fate set in Tanzania. Pó, born with albinism, and Ezequiel, an adoptee of Portuguese missionaries, find each other and fall in love during a violent civil war.

De Sa tells The Next Chapter how and why he wrote Children of The Moon

Internal conflict

"My own family's struggle was one that was set in a very different part of the world, which was the colonial wars in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau in the early 1970s. My uncle had just returned from three years of his mandatory military service in Guinea-Bissau —  a war that was lost before it even began. He went there at 19 and he came home three years later feeling completely lost. He was a broken man. He just wasn't okay. I don't know how else to describe it. We weren't allowed to talk about it so it definitely caused a lot of stress in our family, as I think all secrets do.

"I remember clearly one day walking into the living room and my three uncles were sitting there. I asked them if they could tell me something about their experiences in the wars. They didn't respond. So I pressed it again with another question and one of them told me that I really didn't want to know.  It just wasn't something that we talked about. They weren't going to tell me their story. I quickly surmised that it wasn't just what they experienced in those conflicts, it was also what they participated in."

Lost and in love

"There's the love story at the centre of Children of The Moon. When I started writing it I knew that the book was going to be centered around a young broken child soldier who is trying to find his way in the world. He never feels like he belongs and is always on the fringe of something not black, not white, not Portuguese and not Mozambique. He's living in this kind of in-between world."

Anthony De Sa's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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