HERE COMES THE SUN

Nicole Dennis-Benn

In this radiant, highly anticipated debut, a cast of unforgettable women battle for independence while a maelstrom of change threatens their Jamaican village.

Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Nicole Dennis-Benn pens a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village,

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In this radiant, highly anticipated debut, a cast of unforgettable women battle for independence while a maelstrom of change threatens their Jamaican village.

Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Nicole Dennis-Benn pens a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman. As they face the impending destruction of their community, each woman—fighting to balance the burdens she shoulders with the freedom she craves—must confront long-hidden scars. From a much-heralded new writer, Here Comes the Sun offers a dramatic glimpse into a vibrant, passionate world most outsiders see simply as paradise.

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  • Liveright
  • Hardcover
  • July 2016
  • 352 Pages
  • 9781631491764

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$26.95

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About Nicole Dennis-Benn

Nicole Dennis-Benn has received fellowships from Hedgebrook, MacDowell, Lambda, and the Sewanee Writers Conference. Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, she lives with her wife in Brooklyn, New York, where she teaches writing.

Praise

“Betrayal, forbidden trysts, innocence lost: for two Jamaican sisters wrestling with identity and womanhood, life in a seemingly postcard-perfect paradise is a lot more complicated than it looks.” —Cosmopolitan

“All evidence suggests that this debut deserves its ballyhoo.” —The New York Times

“In Here Comes the Sun, Nicole Dennis-Benn takes readers to the richly rendered shores of her Jamaican homeland … This buzzy novel dives under the shimmering surface of paradise to expose its dark secrets.” —Elle

Discussion Questions

1. Nicole Dennis-Benn brings to life a Jamaica that is removed from, yet also inextricably linked with the fantasy world of the resorts. How does she create a distinct sense of place? Did the Jamaica she conjures surprise you? Did it feel foreign or familiar?

2. “God nuh like ugly,” Miss Ruby warns Thandi, and her mother tells her, “nobody love a black girl.” How do racism, colorism, and classism shape their society? How do these forces direct the characters’ lives, thoughts, and actions?
How did your understanding of Margot’s relationship with Delores change over the course of reading the novel? Do you find their actions toward one another understandable? Forgivable?

3. Margot, Thandi, Delores, Verdene, and Sweetness all have distinct, strong voices. Which of these women did you most sympathize (or even identify) with? Which do you hold most accountable for her actions?

4. The ever-expanding resorts threaten the homes of River Bank residents and destroy their livelihoods as farmers and fishermen. Yet the hotel business also brings jobs and, to ambitious people like Margot, the promise of prosperity. Do you consider this kind of development progress? Why or why not? Did the novel change your views?

5. How do the women in the novel relate to men? What effects do men have on women’s lives and senses of self?
How do Jamaican religion and tradition interact with encroaching modernity on the island? Which storylines illuminate this tension?

6. What are Margot’s motivations? Are they what she says they are?

7. After implementing her scheme, Margot sees Miss Novia Scott-Henry crying in the hotel bathroom, “long streaks down her face. Like scars.” Why do you think Dennis-Benn uses this startling imagery?

8. Why does Margot react as she does when she finds out Thandi has been bleaching her skin?

9. What role does language play in this world, and how does Dennis-Benn use it? What social and emotional associations does the local patois carry?

10. The book’s title sounds optimistic. Is that expectation borne out?