Pages: 432
Imprint: Oneworld


Nicole Dennis-Benn

From award-winning novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn comes this beautifully layered portrait of motherhood, immigration and sacrifice

The Book

From award-winning novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn comes this beautifully layered portrait of motherhood, immigration and sacrifice

For Patsy, a visa to America is her ticket to freedom, a passport to the 'land of opportunity'. She yearns to be reunited with Cicely, her oldest friend and secret lover, but her plans do not include her religious mother or even her young daughter, Tru. As Patsy struggles to survive as an undocumented migrant, Tru grapples with her own questions of identity and sexuality. Can she ever understand, or even forgive, her mother's decision to leave? 

Dancing between the jittery streets of New York and the languid rhythms of Jamaica, Patsy is the story of what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman and, ultimately, a survivor. A passionate, moving and fiercely urgent novel tracing threads of love that stretch across years and oceans. 

Additional Information

Pages 432
Imprint Oneworld



‘Sumptuous... If "queer" can refer not just to sexuality, but also to the act of turning something upside down, then Nicole Dennis-Benn, in her epic and gorgeous new novel, queers the immigrant saga. Patsy, her titular character, is complicated by her desires - for female love, for freedom from motherhood, for a second start in a new country - and Dennis-Benn renders the pains Patsy goes through to achieve those wants in dazzling technicolor.'

- Oprah Magazine

‘A novel that continually and subtly defies predictability as it tells a vital and remarkable life story… Again and again, Patsy surprises and illuminates.'

- New York Times Books Review

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn is even better than her debut Here Comes the Sun... It's a heartbreaker but a heart mender, too... A satisfying read with no easy answers, but so much compassion.'

- Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage, winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction

‘Stunning... Though set in the past, the story and its reflections on borders and boundaries carry an urgent timeliness... 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

‘In her new novel, Patsy, the writer tells an immigration story that defies conventions of motherhood and sexuality.'

- New York Times

‘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.'

- Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of A Spark of Light

‘A moving examination of identity, sexuality, motherhood and immigration…the sort of book you can't stop thinking about long after turning the last page.' 

- i, Best Summer Beach Reads

Patsy methodically and unapologetically engages with the choices women do and should be allowed to make, and…does so with nuance and grace… Ultimately, 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.'

- Washington Post

‘When the title heroine of Dennis-Benn's luminous second novel gets visa approval, she jumps at the chance to move to New York City, leaving behind all she knows of her home in Jamaica — including her 5-year-old daughter. Patsy reminds us that it's still radical for a young woman to pursue her own desires and ambitions and sexuality. It's a bittersweet meditation on ambivalent motherhood and personal satisfaction, as well as the assigned roles we would do anything to break away from, no matter what the cost.'

- New York magazine

‘One of my favourite novels of 2017 was easily Nicole Dennis-Benn's first novel, Here Comes the Sun, and when her second, Patsy, was announced, I almost lost my mind. The richness of Dennis-Benn's writing is taken to another level in Patsy, the story of a Jamaican woman working towards her own version of the American dream... Dennis-Benn explores in such a textured, taut way what in love is gained, and what, or who, is left behind... Bliss.'

- Candice Carty-Williams, author of Queenie

‘Brilliant...a winning pick to help you escape reality... Dennis-Benn, a Jamaican immigrant herself, writes with keen awareness of what others experience living undocumented in America - and the compromises women make to prioritise themselves.'

- Elle

‘The title character of Dennis-Benn's new book is a Jamaican lesbian who arrives in Brooklyn in search of a new chapter, leaving behind an evangelical mother and a then five-year-old daughter. Alternating for more than a decade between Patsy and her daughter, who grapples with her mother's abandonment and her own sexuality in Jamaica, the novel interweaves life as an undocumented immigrant in America with questions about motherhood and freedom.'

- New York Times

Patsy is a thoughtful exploration of the immigrant experience, motherhood, and the choices women are forced to make.' 


‘For a nuanced take on motherhood and identity, look no further than Patsy.' 

- Bookish

‘One of the books I'm looking forward to reading this summer is Nicole Dennis-Benn's Patsy… I admire how Dennis-Benn's work grapples with multiple sources of displacement, mining the drama that emerges from the fundamental tension between social expectations, the requirements of survival and the need to respect and love our true selves.'

- Ladee Hubbard, author of The Talented Ribkins

‘For all the pain caused and endured, Patsy, her family and the ones who love them persevere. Dennis-Benn doesn't tie too fine a bow on it all—homophobia and racism are omnipresent threats—but she offers the reader some hope that good intentions can add up to something beautiful.' 

- Paste magazine

‘This poignant new novel by Nicole Dennis-Benn...tells the story of Patsy, a woman who moves from Jamaica to Brooklyn, New York, in an attempt follow her dreams and put herself first. The journey she craves, however, challenges her in ways she never expected.'

- Southern Living, Best New Books, Summer 2019

‘[Patsy] lays waste to the privileged notion of having it all, an impossible pursuit when race, poverty and sexuality get in the way.'

- Chatelaine

‘Traversing generations and cultures, exposing white privilege and homophobia, exploring sexuality, the pressures of motherhood and the raw struggles of womanhood, Patsy's plight...makes for a profoundly stirring and highly readable novel.'

- LoveReading

‘Beautiful, shattering, and deeply affecting. Patsy's story ultimately makes for a novel that is destined to endure.'

- Chigozie Obioma, author of Man Booker-shortlisted The Fishermen

‘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)

‘Frank, funny, salty, heartbreaking, full of love.'

- Alexander Chee, author of How To Write an Autobiographical Novel

‘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

‘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

‘This is a marvelous novel.'

- Publishers Weekly

‘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

Praise for Here Comes the Sun:

‘Stuns at every turn... It's about women pushed to the edge, Jamaica in all its beauty and fury and more than anything else, a story that was just waiting to be told.' Marlon James

‘An expertly timed examination of race, class, gender and sexuality, weaved seamlessly into an engaging narrative…brilliantly written.' Guardian

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