Patsy

A Novel

Nicole Dennis-Benn (Author, Princeton University)

Logo markA Liveright book

 

A beautifully layered portrait of motherhood, immigration, and the sacrifices we make in the name of love from award-winning novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn.

When Patsy gets her long-coveted visa to America, it comes after years of yearning to leave Pennyfield, the beautiful but impoverished Jamaican town where she was raised. More than anything, Patsy wishes to be reunited with her oldest friend, Cicely, whose letters arrive from New York steeped in the promise of a happier life and the possible rekindling of their young love. But Patsy’s plans don’t include her overzealous, evangelical mother—or even her five-year-old daughter, Tru.

Beating with the pulse of a long-witheld confession, Patsy gives voice to a woman who looks to America for the opportunity to choose herself first—not to give a better life to her family back home. Patsy leaves Tru behind in a defiant act of self-preservation, hoping for a new start where she can be, and love, whomever she wants. But when Patsy arrives in Brooklyn, America is not as Cicely’s treasured letters described; to survive as an undocumented immigrant, she is forced to work as a bathroom attendant and nanny. Meanwhile, Tru builds a faltering relationship with her father back in Jamaica, grappling with her own questions of identity and sexuality, and trying desperately to empathize with her mother’s decision.

Expertly evoking the jittery streets of New York and the languid rhythms of Jamaica, Patsy weaves between the lives of Patsy and Tru in vignettes spanning more than a decade as mother and daughter ultimately find a way back to one another.

As with her masterful debut, Here Comes the Sun, Nicole Dennis-Benn once again charts the geography of a hidden world—that of a paradise lost, swirling with the echoes of lilting patois, in which one woman fights to discover her sense of self in a world that tries to define her. Passionate, moving, and fiercely urgent, Patsy is a prismatic depiction of immigration and womanhood, and the lasting threads of love stretching across years and oceans.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • Forthcoming June 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-63149-563-2
  • 6.1 × 9.3 in / 432 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Although she's lovingly drawn by Dennis-Benn, Patsy has done the single most-damning thing a mother can do in our society: She has abandoned her child. It's a marker of Dennis-Benn's masterful prowess at characterization and her elegant, nuanced writing that the people here—even when they're flawed or unlikable—inspire sympathy and respect. Dennis-Benn has written a profound book about sexuality, gender, race, and immigration that speaks to the contemporary moment through the figure of a woman alive with passion and regret.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Dennis-Benn (Here Comes the Sun, 2016) builds big worlds inside and outside her touchable characters, writing through their knotty love in all its failures and mercies in this empathetic intergenerational epic of womanhood and inheritance.” — Annie Bostrom, Booklist (starred review)

“Nicole Dennis-Benn is an exquisite writer who paints scenes with words so vivid you might as well be walking through it as a character, not a reader. In Patsy, she addresses motherhood, sexuality, racism, and colorism; turning her prodigious talents to the timely story of an undocumented immigrant straddling two worlds while learning that love isn’t a choice, but the beat in one’s blood.” — Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of A Spark of Light and Small Great Things

“A Jamaican woman abandons her daughter for a chance to reunite with her childhood friend turned lover in this wrenching second novel from Dennis-Benn (Here Comes the Sun).... An immersive study in unintended consequences…. This is a marvelous novel.” — Publishers Weekly

“A stunningly powerful inter-generational novel about the price—the ransom really— women must pay to choose themselves, their lives, their value, their humanity. Frank, funny, salty, heartbreaking, full of love, Dennis-Benn is a map-maker to those places in the heart held so closely, the holder may not know even they’re there.” — Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

“Beautiful, shattering, and deeply affecting. Patsy’s story ultimately makes for a novel that is destined to endure.” — Chigozie Obioma, author of The Fishermen

“A novel that splits at the seams with yearning, elegantly written and deeply felt. Dennis-Benn leads the reader through Patsy's life with empathy and grace.” — Esme Weijun Wang, author of The Collected Schizophrenias

“An aching meditation on motherhood, sacrifice, and what it means to look truth in the face in order to fully become oneself. A beautiful book, as heartbreaking as it is restorative.” — Cristina Henriquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans

Also by Nicole Dennis-Benn All

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