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The Gift Of The Holy Cross

Written by Hollie Watson for Chronicle (West Island, Canada) on no date provided

By his own admission, Dorval author Lino Leitao writes from his soul. For therein lie the memories of his native Goa, and his people’s struggle for justice. Leitao paints a picture of a turbulent past in his first novel, The Gift of the Holy Cross. ‘Although it is a work of fiction, the novel is based on historical fact,’ said Leitao, who also has three published collections of short stories to his credit. ‘Goa was a feudal society and Portuguese colony, and Portugal was under dictatorship. There were no civil liberties, no democracy, which was what many intellectuals and students were fighting for at the time,’ said Leitao, one of those students himself.

He emigrated to Canada about 25 years ago and taught high school and at the Gary Taylor
Centre in Beaconsfield. After he retired, he went on to earn a bachelor of arts Canadian history. In his epic novel, Leitao exposes Goan mores that came through the colonial history and caste system, which he said is deep-rooted, even to this day. The focus is the tragic figure of Mario Jacques, a village leader swept up by social forces beyond his control.

Leitao has lived through more than his share of turmoil. When he left his country behind at 30 years of age, he took a teaching position in Uganda, staying 12 years. ‘I was eventually thrown out. I was part of the exodus in 1974 when Idi Amin was in power,’ he said.

Leitao suspended his pursuit of a master’s degree after he received a Canada Council grant to write his book. He had difficulty finding a Canadian publisher, and the project was shelved for several years. The Gift of the Holy Cross has received favourable reviews in England and Goa, where Leitao still has family whom he visits from time to time.

This is a review of The Gift Of The Holy Cross

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