Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez
City of Toronto Book Award finalist; A Globe 100 Best Book of the Year
Scarborough is a low-income, culturally diverse neighbourhood east of Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America; like many inner-city communities, it suffers under the weight of poverty, drugs, crime, and urban blight. Scarborough the novel employs a multitude of voices to tell the story of a tight-knit neighbourhood under fire: among them, Victor, a black artist harassed by the police; Winsum, a West Indian restaurant owner struggling to keep it together; and Hina, a Muslim school worker who witnesses first-hand the impact of poverty on education.
And then there are the three kids who work to rise above a system that consistently fails them: Bing, a gay Filipino boy who lives under the shadow of his father's mental illness; Sylvie, Bing's best friend, a Native girl whose family struggles to find a permanent home to live in; and Laura, whose history of neglect by her mother is destined to repeat itself with her father.
Scarborough has already received recognition as winner of the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop Emerging Writers Award in 2015, and finalist for the 2016 $50,000 Half the World Global Literati Award for best unpublished manuscript. It offers a raw yet empathetic glimpse into a troubled community that locates its dignity in unexpected places: a neighbourhood that refuses to be undone.
Scarborough marks the arrival of a fierce new voice in Canadian fiction. Hernandez has rendered one of the most vibrant portraits of contemporary suburbia I've yet encountered. ―Jordan Tannahill, Governor General's Award-winning playwright
It's said that sometimes an author needs to write fiction in order to tell the most searing truth, and Scarborough is perfect proof of that axiom. This is a beautifully rendered, intimately populated landscape that honours and cherishes characters we usually only see relegated to background scenery and pat, two-dimensional representations. It feels at once foreign and familiar, soothing and challenging -- the kind of storytelling that touches our tenderest places; the best kind of storytelling I know. ―S. Bear Bergman, author of Butch Is a Noun and The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You
Scarborough showcases a necessary shift from the singular voice novel to create space for many voices to be heard -- especially ones that are often forgotten. In her dexterous debut, Catherine Hernandez powerfully centres the margins by interlacing narratives that spotlight the beauty that thrives beyond the big city. ―Vivek Shraya, author of even this page is white and She of the Mountains
With its multiplicity of voices and its ability to walk the very fine line between nonjudgmental and nonexculpatory, the book is a sensitive and unvarnished look at a place with more than its fair share of troubles, and Hernandez shows that it is also a place that refuses to give up hope. ―Publishers Weekly
Scarborough is raw yet beautiful, disturbing yet hopeful ... It gives voice to people whose stories are often unheard, making this an important book that deserves a wide audience. ―Booklist
Hernandez goes deeper than most writers dare when it comes to the complexities of racial and cultural violences, unafraid to unpack the explicit and implicit prejudices that inform her characters’ behaviours, white and racialized alike ... This is a crucial book for Toronto, and a shining example for writers concerned with the cultural tensions of the now. ―Broken Pencil
Scarborough is a celebration of community, a sensitive and compassionate portrayal of how lives are irrevocably changed, moment by moment, through small acts of kindness or cruelty. It’s a novel that deserves to be read widely. ―Hamilton Review of Books
Scarborough is important for many reasons; it’s also quite simply storytelling at its finest. ―Popmatters.com