A propulsive debut of visionary scale, Make Me a City embroiders fact with fiction to tell the story of Chicago’s nineteenth century, tracing the city’s rise from frontier settlement to industrial colossus.
The tale begins with a game of chess — and on the outcome of that game hinges the destiny of a great city. From appalling injustice springs forth the story of Chicago, and of the men and women whose resilience, avarice, and altruism combine to generate a moment of unprecedented civic energy.
A variety of irresistible voices deliver the many strands of this novel: those of Jean Baptiste Pointe de Sable, the long- unheralded founder of Chicago; John Stephen Wright, bombastic speculator and booster; and Antje Hunter, the first woman to report for the Chicago Tribune. The stories of loggers, miners, engineers and educators teem around them and each claim the narrative in turns, sharing their grief as well as their delight.
As the characters, and their ancestors, meet and part, as their possessions pass from hand to hand, the reader realizes that Jonathan Carr commands a grand picture, one that encompasses the heartaches of everyday lives as well as the overarching ideals of what a city and a society can and should be. Make Me a City introduces us to a novelist whose talent and ambition are already fully formed.