Nicole Dennis-Benn
Home     Bio     Books     Recent News     Writing     Events     Workshop     Blog     Podcasts     Photo Gallery     Contact


◂ “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 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

◂ “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

◂ “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


AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE BOOKS ARE SOLD!!!

TO ORDER THE BOOK, VISIT:
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | INDIEBOUND | APPLE BOOKS | GOOGLE PLAY | W. W. NORTON & COMPANY

TO LISTEN TO THE PATSY PLAYLIST, VISIT:
APPLE MUSIC | SPOTIFY | YOUTUBE

◂ A TODAY Show "Read with Jenna" Book Club Selection
◂ Apple Books - Best Book of the Year So Far
◂ TIME - Best Books of Summer 2019
◂ Financial Times - Critics Choice
◂ New York Times - 12 New Books to Watch for in June
◂ O, The Oprah Magazine - Best Books of Summer 2019
◂ Amazon - Best Books of June: Literature and Fiction
◂ Apple Books - Best Books of June: Literature and Fiction
◂ The National Book Review - 5 Hot Books
◂ Washington Post - 20 Books to Read This Summer
◂ Washington Post - 10 Books to Read in June
◂ Entertainment Weekly - This Season's 35 Hottest Reads
◂ Entertainment Weekly - 20 New Books to Read in June
◂ Elle - 30 Best Books to Read This Summer
◂ Elle - Lit Storm: 6 Winning Picks
◂ Vogue - 10 New Books to Read This Summer
◂ Vanity Fair - Taffy Brodesser-Akner's Guide to a Perfect Summer
◂ Vulture - 12 Books We Can't Wait to Read
◂ Harper's Bazaar - 17 Best Summer Reads of 2019
◂ Real Simple - 5 Books That Won't Disappoint
◂ Bustle - 50 New Books Of Summer 2019 To Read By The Pool, In The Park, And On The Beach
◂ Newsday - 12 Great Books to Read This Summer
◂ Nylon - 35 Great Books to Read This Summer
◂ REFINERY29 - 35 Outstanding LGBTQ+ Books of 2019
◂ Colorlines - 6 Books That Complicate the Idea of 'Independence'
◂ Essence Magazine - Great Summer Beach Reads
◂ Summer Living - Best New Books Coming Out Summer 2019

From the critically acclaimed and award winning novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn comes a stirring portrait of motherhood, immigration, and the sacrifices we make in the name of love. When Patsy gets her long-coveted visa to America, it comes after years of yearning to leave Pennyfield, a beautiful but impoverished Jamaican town where there are few opportunities for economic advancement. More than anything, Patsy wishes to be reunited with her oldest friend, Cicely, whose letters arrive from New York full of the promise of a happier life and a possible rekindling of their young love. As hard as it is for her to admit, Patsy’s plans don’t include her overzealous, evangelical mother – or even her five-year-old daughter, Tru, who she is leaving behind in Jamaica. Beating with the feverish pulse of a long-held confession, Patsy gives voice to a woman who looks to America not to give a better life to her family back home, but instead for the opportunity to choose herself first. Patsy leaves Tru with a mixture of guilt and relief but 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, she discovers with disappointment that America is not as Cicely’s treasured letters described and, to survive as an undocumented immigrant, she is forced to work a series of unexpected jobs such as bathroom attendant and nanny. Meanwhile, Tru works to build a relationship with her father back in Jamaica, as she grapples with her own questions of identity and sexuality, and tries desperately to understand her mother’s abandonment. Expertly evoking the rhythms of Jamaica and the bustling streets of New York, 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 haunting depiction of immigration and womanhood, and the lasting threads of love stretching across years and oceans.

◂ "There have been few narrative epics that effectively tally the emotional, logistical, physical, psychological and financial trials of the black female immigrant and mother or, likewise, the impact on the family of a black woman who dares transform herself. Dennis-Benn maps the internal terrain of black women yearning to be free — without romanticizing or ignoring their flaws....Patsy fills a literary void with compassion, complexity and tenderness." - TIME MAGAZINE

◂ "Patsy upends the stereotypes of immigrant and gay fiction...[it] continually and subtly defies predictability as it tells a vital and remarkable life story...Again and again, Patsy surprises and illuminates." - THE NEW YORK TIMES

◂ "Dennis-Benn gives her characters the dose of happiness and self-assurance that many stories about social ills refuse women like them. She does that without facilely wishing away the big issues—racism, homophobia, gender, classism—that her novel tackles. Patsy is a portrait of black queer women grasping for self-determination, and a challenge to the conventions of what is expected of good mothers and good women and good immigrants. Tru’s inheritance from Patsy isn’t years of doting or gifts from America, but instead the permission to thrive in a society that will always threaten to crush her will and desire. In writing beautifully about that unending struggle, Dennis-Benn finds a way to extend to black girls and women some of the love that the world may never offer." - THE ATLANTIC

◂ "Patsy isn't just as good as its predecessor, it's somehow even better....Dennis-Benn packs a great deal of emotional power into Patsy, and does so successfully because she's not afraid to confront truths that many other authors might shy away from....Dennis-Benn isn't just a compassionate writer, she's also a courageous one, unafraid to address topics that too often go ignored. And in Patsy and Tru, she's managed to create two unforgettable characters who function as real people and not literary archetypes. Dennis-Benn is quickly becoming an indispensable novelist, and Patsy is a brave, brilliant triumph of a book." - NPR

◂ "...a big social novel and a heartbreaking and eye-opening intergenerational story about undocumented immigration, a mother’s search for herself, and a child’s yearning for what does not exist....exquisitely written, highly nuanced, and powerful..." - THE NATIONAL BOOK REVIEW

◂ "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 STARRED REVIEW

◂ "Dennis-Benn builds big worlds inside and outside of her touchable characters, writing through their knotty love in all its failures and mercies in this empathic intergenerational epic of womanhood and inheritance." - BOOKLIST STARRED REVIEW

◂ "Dennis-Benn is a prodigious world-straddler, and not just geographically; her characters are memorable and fully drawn, and the devastating meta-legacies they conjure are all too real." - VOGUE

◂ “Vivid . . . raw, heartbreaking, and real.” - PEOPLE MAGAZINE

◂ "...[Dennis-Benn's] stunning second novel only serves to solidify her place as one of the finest novelists writing today....It's a heartbreaking, sensitive book that not only deftly demonstrates the impossible choices women must make in order to live the lives they want to live, but also exposes the specific hardships of immigrants in America, whose lives are made nearly impossible because of arbitrary and unjust legislation." - NYLON

◂ "...Jamaican novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn is back with a searing new take on immigration and what it means to be a mother....Passionate and urgent, PATSY explores what happens when a woman chooses herself over all else." - HARPER'S BAZAAR

◂ "This is a marvelous novel." - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

◂ "Nicole Dennis-Benn’s sophomore novel, Patsy, methodically and unapologetically engages with choices women do and should be allowed to make, and as with her last novel, Here Comes the Sun, does so with nuance and grace.... Patsy is a deeply queer, sensitive and vividly written novel about a woman’s right to want and a child’s right to carve her own path." - THE WASHINGTON POST

◂ "Patsy, By Nicole Dennis-Benn Is A Summer Must-Read About Identity, Immigration, And The American Dream." - BUSTLE

◂ "...Nicole Dennis-Benn contrasts the deep chasm between the American dream and immigrant reality, and the result is magnetic and wrenching....What must women sacrifice, Dennis-Benn asks, to become their true selves....A mother who abandons her child is a monster in most cultures, but Dennis-Benn’s deep compassion for Patsy — for all women facing unthinkable choices — forces you to reconsider your own preconceptions....Patsy is told from both points of view, mother and daughter, the voices raw, honest and haunting." - NEWSDAY

◂ "Dennis-Benn treats her complicated heroine with compassion while also holding her accountable. In the process, she explores compelling ideas about parenthood, freedom, and the ripple effects of trauma." - APPLE BOOKS

◂ "It's a heartbreaker, but a heart mender too. It's especially timely as immigration and family separation is a serious issue; it's also a satisfying read with no easy answers, but so much compassion." - FINANCIAL TIMES

◂ "[PATSY] eloquently shows how a thwarted desire for independence can warp our relationships with others.” - THE NEW YORKER

◂ "Powerful." - PASTE MAGAZINE

◂ "A searing portrait of a young Jamaican woman. . . . In Patsy, Dennis-Benn delivers a novel of love and sexuality, parenthood and childhood, hardship and opportunity whose every page sparkles with complex and imperfect characters fighting to make their way in a harsh world." - SHELF AWARENESS

◂ "Dennis-Benn's vivid, sensory writing plunges the reader into the experience of an undocumented immigrant in the wilds of New York. . . . The immigrant novel has a rich tradition in American literature. . . . Patsy adds to that lineage with its engrossing portrait of a complicated woman who struggles against crushing societal forces in her quest—not to sacrifice her life for future generations—but to finally unfurl her true self." - THE STAR TRIBUNE

◂ "Worth celebrating, reading, and re-reading. . . . Nicole Dennis-Benn parses the intersection of motherly obligation, sexuality, and immigration to create a rich and thought-provoking book." - REFINERY29

◂ "Dennis-Benn’s writing is ravishing, full of the musical rhythm of Jamaican dialect, sprinkled like hot spices throughout a narrative that is colorful, heartbreakingly sad and bristling with life." - SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

◂ "Magnetic and wrenching. . . . [Dennis-Benn] explore[s themes] with insight and empathy . . . [Her] deep compassion for Patsy — for all women facing unthinkable choices — forces you to reconsider your own preconceptions. She urges you to think about this woman’s desperation, her fear, her past, her yearning for connection. . . . The voices [in Patsy are] raw, honest, and haunting." - THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

◂ "Nicole Dennis-Benn’s novel paints a compelling portrait of a queer Black woman centered on motherhood, choice and autonomy." - COLORLINES

◂ "Heart-wrenching . . . [a] page-turner . . . In Patsy, Dennis-Benn gives a voice to those who look to the USA for opportunity, parents who choose themselves over their loved one’s security and highlights the LGBTQ+ community in a fresh way." - BLACK ENTERPRISE

◂ "A moving examination of identity, sexuality, motherhood and immigration...[Patsy] is the sort of book you can't stop thinking about long after turning the last page." - i MAGAZINE

◂ "...wrenching....[Patsy] lays waste to the privileged notion of having it all, an impossible pursuit when race, poverty and sexuality get in the way." - CHATELAINE