Patsy goes paperback

Entertainment

Patsy goes paperback

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 18, 2020

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Jamaican-born author Nicole Dennis-Benn is still reaping rewards from the release of her 2019 novel Patsy.

On May 26, Patsy will be released in paperback which is yet another accolade for what is Dennis-Benn's second publication, which was also selected by host of the Today show, Jenna Bush-Hager as part of her monthly book club.

“The popularity of this book club and the way Jenna Bush-Hager spoke about Patsy resulted in a peak in book sales,” Dennis-Benn told the Jamaica Observer in an interview from her home in New York.

“The platform to my book really pushed it in a whole new direction. When I write I don't have a specific reader in mind, so to see so many different people connecting with the book and characters is really pleasing. For me people are connecting with the story on a human level... relating to the issues of motherhood, the immigrant story, the story from the daughter's perspective,” she said.

Patsy tells the story of two women — Patsy and her daughter, Tru. Patsy, having never felt quite right as a mother and growing increasingly suffocated by the expectations of parenting, leaves Tru behind in Jamaica in search of freedom in New York — and to live with the woman she's yearned for since adolescence. But she soon realises that she's fled one kind of imprisonment for another, finding herself working as a nanny, caring for wealthy children. Meanwhile, Tru builds a faltering relationship with her father back in Jamaica, eventually winning over his approval by embracing the very tomboy qualities she's mocked for at school. But not a day goes by that she doesn't wonder where her own mother has gone, and why she doesn't write or call.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has thrown off the initial plans Dennis-Benn and her team had to promote the paperback release of Patsy.

“I now have to be embracing the new normal. So all the launches that I had planned will now be virtual. This is very different for me. I love a book signing , reading the book, meeting my readers, and taking pictures with them. Now I have to wrap my mind around not being able to meet readers face to face. But this too will pass, but in the meantime we still have to sell books,” she noted.

In February of this year, Patsy was officially launched in Jamaica, and Dennis-Benn noted that being able to read for a Jamaican audience at home was a thrill.

“It was amazing. So many people came out to hear me. I guess that is the reward for writing a novel about my people... putting Jamaica and Jamaicans on the page. There were people there who I grew up with in Vineyard Town, persons from high school as well as persons I went to UWI [The University of the West Indies] with. They could all connect with Patsy in some way. The excerpt I read was of Patsy being in the line at the embassy and so many persons could relate.”

Like Patsy and her previous work Here Comes the Sun, Jamaica will play a huge part in her next novel. Dennis-Benn is tight- lipped about the story, noting that her island home will always be a major character in this work.


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