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Publisher's Summary

"The triumph of Saga Boy is the triumph of Blackness everywhere - the irrepressible instinct for survival in a world where Blacks are prey." (Ian Williams, Giller Prize-winning author of Reproduction)

An enthralling, deeply personal account of a young immigrant's search for belonging and Black identity amid the long-lasting effects of cultural dislocation.

Antonio Michael Downing's memoir of creativity and transformation is a startling mash-up of memories and mythology, told in gripping, lyrical prose.  

Raised by his indomitable grandmother in the lush rainforest of Southern Trinidad, Downing, at age 11, is uprooted to Canada when she dies. But to a very unusual part of Canada: He and his older brother are sent to live with his stern, evangelical Aunt Joan in Wabigoon, a tiny Northern Ontario community where they are the only Black children in the town. 

In this wilderness, he begins his journey as an immigrant minority, using music and performance to dramatically transform himself. At the heart of his odyssey is the longing for a home. He is reunited with his birth parents whom he has known only through stories. But this proves disappointing: Al is a womanizing con man and drug addict, and Gloria, twice abandoned by Al, seems to regard her sons as cash machines. 

He tries to flee his messy family life by transforming into a series of extravagant musical personalities: "Mic Dainjah", a punk rock rapper, "Molasses", a soul music crooner, and finally "John Orpheus", a gold-chained, sequin- and leather-clad pop star. Yet, like his father and grandfather, he has become a "Saga Boy", a Trinidadian playboy, addicted to escapism, attention, and sex. 

When the inevitable crash happens, he finds himself in a cold, stone jail cell. He has become everything he was trying to escape and must finally face himself. Richly evocative, Saga Boy is a heart-wrenching but uplifting story of a lonely immigrant boy who overcomes adversity and abandonment to reclaim his Black identity and embrace a rich heritage. 

©2020 Antonio Michael Downing (P)2020 Penguin Random House Canada

What listeners say about Saga Boy

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Entertaining and heartfelt

This book was a wonderful tale of growth, survival and forgiveness. I highly recommend the audio version, as the author reads it himself, complete with sweet Trinny accents and singing.

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What a ride!

His story is an incredible rollercoaster ride. It really explores the depths of the trauma often faced by Caribbean immigrants and their children in North America. The cycle of trauma post-slavery and the fight out of it in a really humorous and soul-captivating way. I highly recommend it.

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Loved every minute of this book.

I loved listening to every minute of this book. Hearing the authors voice made it feel like a personal conversation. I was singing along to the hymns as he sang, cried and laughed all throughout. Great coming of age story that will not disappoint.

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An important story we all need to hear

Brilliant. Poetic. Tragic. Captivating performance & perspective. Amazing work from an amazing man. #goatlife

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Beautifully told story of growth

This heart wrenching, powerful story of a broken home, read so beautifully by the author himself, seems impossible and exhausting. It explains the power of knowing oneself and benefits of therapy. Well done

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Fantastic

This memoir is so poetic, engaging and raw. Mr. Downing’s performance is something not to miss. Will recommend to everyone. Well done!