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The Great Divide

The Great Divide

A powerful novel about the construction of the Panama Canal, casting light on the unsung people who lived, loved, and labored there.

It is said that the canal will be the greatest feat of engineering in history. But first, it must be built. For Francisco, a local fisherman who resents the foreign powers clamoring for a slice of his country, nothing is more upsetting than the decision of his son, Omar, to work as a digger in the excavation zone. But for Omar, whose upbringing was quiet and lonely, this job offers a chance to finally find connection.

Ada Bunting is a bold sixteen-year-old from Barbados who arrives in Panama as a stowaway alongside thousands of other West Indians seeking work. Alone and with no resources, she is determined to find a job that will earn enough money for her ailing sister’s surgery. When she sees a young man—Omar—who has collapsed after a grueling shift, she is the only one who rushes to his aid.

John Oswald has dedicated his life to scientific research and has journeyed to Panama in single-minded pursuit of one goal: eliminating malaria. But now, his wife, Marian, has fallen ill herself, and when he witnesses Ada’s bravery and compassion, he hires her on the spot as a caregiver. This fateful decision sets in motion a sweeping tale of ambition, loyalty, and sacrifice. 

Searing and empathetic, The Great Divide by Cristina Henríquez explores the intersecting lives of activists, fishmongers, laborers, journalists, neighbors, doctors, and soothsayers—those rarely acknowledged by history even as they carved out its course.

Book Details

Publisher: Ecco
Publish Date: March 5, 2024
ISBN: 9780063291324
Language: English

About the Author

Cristina Henríquez is the author of The Great Divide, The Book of Unknown Americans, The World In Half, and Come Together, Fall Apart: A Novella and Stories. She has been longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. 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.

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