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By Catherine Hernandez
Categories: BIPOC, Asian Literature, LGBTQ+, Lesbian Literature, Fiction, Youth Culture
Paperback : 9781551526775, 264 pages, 2017
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NOW A MOTION PICTURE directed by Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson; screenplay by Catherine Hernandez

Trillium Book Award and City of Toronto Book Award finalist; Edmund White Debut Fiction Award finalist; A Globe 100, National Post and Quill and Quire 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 offers a raw yet empathetic glimpse into a troubled community that locates its dignity in unexpected places: a neighbourhood that refuses to be undone.


  • Short-listed, City of Toronto Book Award 2017
  • Short-listed, OLA Forest of Reading Evergreen Award 2018
  • Short-listed, Publishing Triangle Award (Edmund White Debut Fiction Award) 2018
  • Short-listed, Trillium Book Award 2018
  • Short-listed, Canada Reads 2022


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

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

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, two-time Governor General's Award-winning playwright

Scarborough is important for many reasons; it's also quite simply storytelling at its finest. -Popmatters. com

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