This novel by Catherine Hernandez offers a glimpse into a troubled community that locates its dignity in unexpected places.

Catherine Hernandez

(Arsenal Pulp Press)

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Emerging Writers Award in 2015, and finalist for the 2016 $50,000 Half the World Global Literati Award for best unpublished manuscript.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. (From Arsenal Pulp Press)

From the book

I am standing just close enough to Mommy, until she begins to speak to me. I don't understand what she's saying, but I know better than to ask her to say it again. 

She puts two plastic bags on the floor. She opens them up the way you open up socks so your foot can fit in. They look like two circles. I watch. 

Mommy begins putting things into the circles. Whatever she can reach with her arms. Her hair is over her eyes, and I don't know if she can even see what she's reaching for. I want to help her, but I don't know why she's doing this. 

"You're going to your dad's." 

From Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez ©2017. Published by Arsenal Pulp Press. 

Interviews with Catherine Hernandez

In this CBC Books video series, Catherine Hernandez explains why today’s Canadian writers need to be aware of anti-oppression and decolonization in order to be successful. 3:22
Scarborough author Catherine Hernandez reveals why she writes. (Originally broadcast on September 17, 2018) 3:02