Cristina Henríquez is the author of The Book of Unknown Americans, which was a New York TimesNotable Book of 2014 and one of Amazon’s Top 10 Books of the Year. It was the Daily Beast Novel of the Year, a Washington Post Notable Book, an NPR Great Read, a Target Book of the Month selection, and was chosen one of the best books of the year by BookPage, Oprah.com, and School Library Journal. It was also longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

Henriquez is also the author The World In Half (a novel), and Come Together, Fall Apart: A Novella and Stories, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection.

Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Glimmer Train, The American Scholar, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, and AGNI along with the anthology This is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America’s Best Women Writers.

Cristina’s non-fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, The Oxford American, and Preservation as well as in the anthologies State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America and Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Women Writers Reflect on the Candidate and What Her Campaign Meant.

She was featured in Virginia Quarterly Review as one of “Fiction’s New Luminaries,” has been a guest on National Public Radio, and is a recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation Award, a grant started by Sandra Cisneros in honor of her father.

Cristina earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Illinois.





The Book of unknown americans

Vivid…. Striking…. A ringing paean … to the love between man and wife, parent and child, outsider and newcomer, pilgrims and promised land.
— Washington Post

Arturo Rivera was the owner of a construction company in Pátzcuaro, México. One day, as his beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, is helping him at a work site, she sustains an injury that casts doubt on whether she’ll ever be the same again. And so, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better.

When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panamà, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. It’s also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novel’s core.

Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Central and Latin America. Their journeys and their voices will inspire you, surprise you, and break your heart.

Suspenseful, funny and warm, rich in spirit and humanity, The Book of Unknown Americans is a new American classic.


Discussion Guide for The Book of Unknown Americans


the world in half

Miraflores has never known her father, and until now, she’s never thought that he wanted to know her. She’s long been aware that her mother had an affair with him while she was stationed with her then husband in Panama, and she’s always assumed that her pregnant mother came back to the United States alone with his consent. But when Miraflores returns to the Chicago suburb where she grew up, to care for her mother at a time of illness, she discovers that her mother and father had a greater love than she ever thought possible, and that her father had wanted her more than she could have imagined.

In secret, Miraflores plots a trip to Panama, in search of the man whose love she hopes can heal her mother—and whose presence she believes can help her find the pieces of her own identity that she thought were irretrievably lost. What she finds is unexpected, exhilarating, and holds the power to change the course of her life completely.

In gorgeous, shimmering prose, Cristina Henríquez delivers a triumphant and heartbreaking first novel: the story of a young woman reconciling an existence between two cultures and confronting a life of hardship with an endless capacity to learn, love, and forgive.

come together, fall apart

With eight short stories and a novella that travel from dusty city streets to humid beaches, Cristina Henríquez carves out a distinctive and unforgettable vision of contemporary Panama. The stories of Come Together, Fall Apart combine to create a seamless fictional world in which the varied landscapes and shifting culture of a country in transition—and the insistent voices of its young people—are vividly represented. We meet Henríquez’s gracefully realized narrators as they confront love, death, freedom, and betrayal—always with hope, always with determination, and all the while aware that the past still haunts the present.

In “Yanina,” a young man’s fidelity is tested when a new living situation strains his relationship with his girlfriend. For the young woman in “Ashes,” the very notion of fidelity is shattered—and her lover’s philandering is only one link in a chain of traumatic events that begins with her mother’s death. In “Mercury,” an American girl visits her grandparents in Panama while her parents divorce at home, and attempts to connect with her ailing grandfather in broken Spanish that he’ll never understand. Again and again, characters find their fates irrevocably tied to those of their families—in “Beautiful,” as fortunes rise; and in “Come Together, Fall Apart,” as they collapse.

These are stories of family bonds and generational conflicts, youthful infatuation and genuine passion that are tender, ambitious, and unflinching, from a bold and original young writer who is not only an accomplished prose stylist but also an irresistible storyteller. Come Together, Fall Apart heralds the arrival of a fresh, exciting, and lavishly talented new voice in American literature.

How does a young writer gather the wisdom, heart, and tenderness to write stories of such exquisite humanity? I can only guess she is an ancient soul, a zen master, a bruja, or all of the above. However it’s done, I bow deeply and welcome this first collection.
— Sandra Cisneros


upcoming events


Hinsdale Public library

April 13, 2018 / 7pm


Glen ellyn 



Mount holyoke

September 2018

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other works


"Everything is Far From Here" - The New Yorker
"Goodbyes" - The American Scholar
"Carmen Elcira: A (Love) Life" - The Atlantic
"Gabriella, My Heart" - This is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America's Best Women Writers
"Carnival, Las Tablas" - The New Yorker
"Chasing Birds" - Ploughshares
"Mercury" - Glimmer Train
"Ashes" - The New Yorker
"Drive" - Virginia Quarterly Review


Need for (Reduced) Speed - New York Times Magazine
Traveler's Tale - Wall Street Journal
Confessions of a Former Sweet Valley High Addict - NPR.com
From Cantor to College, Don't Forget the Immigrants in the U.S. Immigration Fight - The Guardian
What a Disastrous 14-Hour Road Trip Taught Me About My Family (and Myself) - Real Simple
The Rejection Files - Oxford American
Lunch - The New Yorker
My Grandmother and the Plants - Etiqueta Negra
Place - Preservation Magazine
The Largest Statue in the World of an American Hero - Oxford American


Doubly Denied - Double Bind: Women on Ambition, ed. Robin Romm
Texas - State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America, ed. Sean Wilsey and Matt Weiland
Hello, My Name Is... - Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Women Writers Reflect on the Candidate and What Her Campaign Meant, ed. Susan Morrison
"Gabriella, My Heart" - This is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America's Best Women Writers


Review of Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue - New York Times Book Review




You can email Cristina directly at cristina [at] cristinahenriquez [dot] com.

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