How does a place become a city? Whose stories will survive and whose will be lost? How do you know if you truly belong?
It is 1800. On desolate, marshy ground between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River, a man builds a house and a city is born ...
This masterful debut novel spans Chicago's tumultuous first century, showing how a city is made: by a succession of vivid, sometimes villainous individuals and their cumulative invention, energy, and vision.
We meet the city's unacknowledged founder, a descendant of colonisers and slaves; witness the dispersal of the indigenous Native Americans; hear stories of an entrepreneur, an engineer, a courageous female reporter, and a corrupt alderman; and track the lives of immigrants from all over the world, as they struggle for acceptance in a country they have built.
Chicago, its inhabitants and its history are brought to dazzling, colourful life in this epic tale that speaks of not just one city but America as a whole, and of how people come to find their place in the world.