They Dream in Gold

Mai Sennaar

A mouthwatering delight. A reader traverses half the globe through this story, becomes a singer and a dancer and a chef; and is welcomed into a formidable community of women where love is the unshakeable glue.

- Sarah Jessica Parker, SJP Lit

A “luminous” (Tara Conklin) literary debut following two dreamers, one intercultural family, and the diasporic pursuit of home.





Page count




Sale date

July 30, 2024


6 x 9

About the Book

When Bonnie and Mansour meet in New York in 1968—his piercing gaze in a downtown jazz club threatening to carry her away—their connection is undeniable. Both from fractured homes, with childhoods spent crossing the Atlantic, they quickly find peace with each other. And as Mansour’s soaring Senegalese melodies continue to break new ground, keeping time with the sound of revolution and taking him and Bonnie from Paris to Rio and Switzerland, it seems as though happiness might finally be around the corner for them both.


Then Mansour goes missing. His Spanish tour was only meant to last three weeks, but three months later, he and his band have not returned. In his absence, Bonnie reckons with her memories of him, and comes to understand that the hopes of so many women—her mother and grandmother; his mother, aunt, childhood friend—rest on her perseverance. Stirred by the life growing inside her, Bonnie puts a plan in action to find him.


Spanning two decades and moving through the hotbeds of the African diaspora, They Dream in Gold is an epic yet intimate exploration of the migrant hunger for belonging and a powerful, intergenerational testament to our shared humanity, for lovers of Tara Stringfellow’s Memphis and Abi Daré’s The Girl with the Louding Voice.


“Epic and hauntingly beautiful.” ―Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
“Wholly original.” ―Thao Thai
One of the most beautiful debuts I’ve ever read.” ―Dawnie Walton


“Expansive, evocative . . . Sennaar’s writing is eloquent and transportive as she conjures each scene with depth and detail, whether describing a sumptuous meal or the intensifying crescendo of a song . . . A dynamic and impressive debut by a talented new novelist.”

- Booklist, starred review

“Wow. What a book! They Dream in Gold is a gorgeous symphony of voices and cities and art, tied together by a stunning love story and a mysterious disappearance. In luminous language, with characters who sweat, bleed and sing, Mai Sennaar has written a debut that soars and kept me turning pages long after my bedtime. What a thrill to read a new writer with this much heart and vision.”

- Tara Conklin, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Romantics

“Exquisitely written, They Dream in Gold is an epic and hauntingly beautiful story, each page shimmering like gold, woven by Mai Sennaar’s astounding talent as a debut author whose work I look forward to reading during the years to come.”

- Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, internationally best-selling author of The Mountains Sing

“A symphonic feat of wisdom and breathtaking verve, They Dream in Gold is a revelation of a novel that readers won’t soon forget. Spanning continents and decades of sociopolitical changes, this wholly original, whirlwind story deftly illuminates the tensions of art and humanity with fresh language and vivid characters. Mai Sennaar is a rare, daring talent who wrings emotion and beauty from each page, each word, and leaves you thirsting for more still.”

- Thao Thai, author of Banyan Moon

They Dream in Gold is one of the most beautiful debuts I’ve ever read—musical, magical, and full of tenderness for the unique histories and identities entwined in love.

- Dawnie Walton, author of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

They Dream in Gold sends us on a journey around the world with a remarkable cast of women in search of belonging and the realization of their dreams. Sennaar tells their story with a musician’s ear for rhythm and subtlety, and indeed, music and love beat strong in the heart of this powerful debut. I would follow these characters anywhere.”

- Laura Warrell, author of Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm

They Dream in Gold is a roving and kaleidoscopic masterpiece. Mai Sennaar writes toward all that is inexplicable, impossible, paradoxical about diasporic longing, regret, ambition, and redemption.”

- Elysha Chang, author of A Quitter’s Paradise

“Building a remarkable tapestry of lives buffeted by fate, this lyrical, tender epic explores migration, diaspora, motherhood, and ambition.”

- Bookseller (UK)