The Great Divide

By Cristina Henriquez

‘A gorgeous, sweeping epic’ ANN NAPOLITANO

‘A master of prose’ WASHINGTON POST

One of my favourite writers’ ROXANE GAY

‘Spectacular’ JOANNE SEFTON

‘I didn’t want it to end’ SARA SHERIDAN

A breathtaking historical novel following the incredible construction of the Panama Canal and casting light on the unsung people who lived and laboured in its shadow – by acclaimed author Cristina Henríquez.

It is said that the Canal will be the greatest feat of engineering in history. But first, it must be built.

Ada Bunting, a bold sixteen-year-old from Barbados, arrives alone in Panama as a stowaway alongside thousands of other West Indians seeking work in the grand building project of the Canal. Francisco, a local fisherman, resents the foreign nations clamouring for a slice of his country, but nothing is more upsetting for him than his son Omar’s decision to work as a digger. For Omar, whose upbringing was quiet and lonely, this job offers a chance to finally find connection and independence. Scientist John Oswald has come from further afield. He has journeyed to Panama in pursuit of one goal: eliminating malaria. But everything hangs in the balance as his wife Marian falls ill herself.

When John witnesses an act of bravery and compassion from Ada one day, he hires her on the spot as a caregiver for his wife. This fateful decision sets in motion a sweeping tale of ambition, loyalty, and sacrifice.

Breathtaking and impossible to put down, The Great Divide explores the lives of the labourers, fishmongers, journalists, protesters, doctors and soothsayers who lived alongside the construction of the Canal – those rarely acknowledged by history even as they carved out its course.

‘Henríquez writes gorgeously, creating indelible characters whom you’ll never want to leave‘ Justin Torres, author of Blackouts

‘A masterful weaving together of different lives… I can’t stop thinking about it’ Hester Musson, author of The Beholders

Henríquez writes beautifully … Stunning’ Haleh Agar, author of Out of Touch

Format: Hardback
Release Date: 14 Mar 2024
Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-0-00-860798-2
Cristina Henríquez is the author of The Book of Unknown Americans. It was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Henríquez is also the author of The World In Half and Come Together, Fall Apart: A Novella and Stories. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, The Oxford American, The American Scholar, and elsewhere. She earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Illinois.

”'A gorgeous, sweeping epic that draws together a truly unforgettable cast of characters. I loved it” - Ann Napolitano, author of Hello Beautiful

”'One of my favourite writers … Offers both intimacy and the expansiveness of a sprawling epic” - Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist

'Poignant … Henriquez is a master of prose whose enchanting words capture the landscape' Washington Post -

”'Henríquez gives us cause to celebrate with this sweeping novel … A welcome return by one of our finest voices” - Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels

”'By turns macabre and also truly joyful, The Great Divide left me with a powerful ache for forgotten histories that will not soon leave me” - Xochitl Gonzalez, author of Olga Dies Dreaming

”'Masterful … I can't stop thinking about it” - Hester Musson, author of The Beholders

”'A wonderful tapestry of interwoven character stories” - Karen Angelico, author of Everything We Are

”'Both sweeping—power and science, history and empire—and incredibly precise in its rendering of the human soul” - Justin Torres, author of Blackouts

”'A gift for the reader … A beautiful, memorable novel” - Kate Murray Browne, author of The Upstairs Room

”'Henríquez writes beautifully, giving a voice to those who have been overlooked by history … Stunning” - Haleh Agar, author of Out of Touch

”'A spectacular achievement. I loved it” - Joanne Sefton, author of If They Knew

”'Exquisitely crafted … powerful, rich and fascinating, and I loved every minute of it” - Katie Lumsden, author of The Secrets of Hartwood Hall

'Henríquez’s pitch-perfect novel has the feel of a classic' Publishers Weekly (starred review) -

'[A] rich, evocative slice of life from a little-known chapter of history' Reader's Digest -

'A compassionate and insightful historical epic' LitHub -

”'Immersive, sweeping” - Bustle