The Trinity Questionnaire: Randy Boayagoda ’99

In our inaugural edition, we spend a few minutes with Randy Boyagoda ’99, author, professor of English at U of T, and the Principal of St. Michael’s College

The Boyagoda family poses for a portrait in their Toronto home. From bottom left: Ever, Mira, Imogen, and Anna. From top left: Randy and Olive. Chris Donovan/The Globe and Mail

Why did you choose Trinity College?
Black gowns, downtown …
academic seriousness and confident High Anglican-informed traditions were appealing to a Sri Lankan Catholic high schooler from suburban Oshawa.

What is your favourite place on the Trinity campus?
Seeley Hall, in late October: I have been attending the Trinity book sale continuously since 1995.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A rejection of the very concept for the durable and more realistic gifts of life itself.

What is your greatest fear?
A rejection of the rejection I mentioned a question ago.

Which living person do you most admire?
A friend with 15 children who somehow reads more than I do.

What advice would you give your first-year university self?
Stop eating the bacon-and-eggs breakfast plate in the Buttery every other day.

Tell us one thing about yourself that few people know.
I’m part German. On my mother’s side, the earliest known ancestor is a clerk who came to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in the 18th century.

On what occasion do you lie?
Whenever my four children and I are watching a Marvel action movie and my wife joins us and wants to know why we aren’t watching a documentary.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
You’d have to ask my students. At least once a term in the Gilson Seminar in Faith and Ideas, the College One course I teach at St. Michael’s College, I endure an imitation or two, which reveals exactly this.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife, Anna.

When and where were you happiest?
Here and now, with my wife, Anna. Our four children generally contribute to this happiness as well.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Is hair growth a talent?

Randy Boyagoda in his undergrad days … with half a beard.

What is your favourite treat or indulgence?
The fried eggplant on focaccia sandwich you can buy in the basement at St. Lawrence Market.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’m all good. (So probably, my at-times too-healthy self-regard.)

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Faith and family life are working out pretty well; so too, my day job(s).

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
Not the sundial that used to be in the middle of the quad.

What is your most treasured possession?
The Grundig short-wave radio I purchased at the end of my fourth year at Trinity, which I took with me to graduate school in Boston and which has travelled with me all around the world. I still listen to it every day.

What do you most value in your friends?
What Aristotle proposed we value: persons who help you, in any number of ways, to grow in virtue and the good, who themselves are open to doing the same because of your own friendship with them.

Who are your favorite writers?
William Faulkner, Evelyn Waugh, Saul Bellow, St. Augustine, Dante.

Who is your hero of fiction?
Dante’s Pilgrim.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
St. Augustine, he said, in a humble brag.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Those who give and do more with less than I do.

 

On Nov. 12, grads from the 1990s are invited to an dinner and a talk with featured speaker Randy Boyagoda ‘99, as he discusses his most recently published novel, Original Prin.
Register here

Leave a reply