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The Great Divide

A novel by

‘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

Genre: Historical

Praise for this book

"The Great Divide is Cristina Henriquez's novel reconstruction of the Panama Canal, a well-crafted and meticulously researched marriage of history and story." - Sandra Cisneros

"The Great Divide is a beautifully written novel that is, at first glance, about the construction of the Panama Canal, but really, it's about the people whose lives were changed in ways good and bad, by man's insatiable desire to conquer - land, other people, the frailties of the human body. The prose offers both intimacy and the expansiveness of a sprawling epic. From the first page to the last, I found myself deeply invested in each of the characters so full of want, so willing to do everything and anything to satisfy those yearnings." - Roxane Gay

"Against the backdrop of the construction of the Panama Canal, Cristina Henriquez's commanding and fearless prose conducts us through the very depth of the Panamanian jungle, where young Ada and Omar fight bravely - for themselves, their families and their communities survival - in a rapidly changing world. Violent empire and volatile sickness combine for harrowing effect in this vivid novel that interrogates all that is sacrificed in the name of progress. 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

"A gorgeous, sweeping epic that draws together a truly unforgettable cast of characters. I loved it." - Ann Napolitano

"The Great Divide feels both sweeping - power and science, history and empire - and incredibly precise in its rendering of the human soul. Henrequez writes gorgeously, creating indelible characters whom you'll never want to leave." - Justin Torres

"Cristina Henriquez gives us cause to celebrate with this sweeping novel. It speeds us into a wild world of adventure and danger, epic visions of the creation of the Panama Canal. There isn't another book like it. A welcome return by one of our finest voices." - Luis Alberto Urrea

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