Friday, 12 August 2016

BOOK OF THE MOMENT: Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Here Comes the Sun hailed as an artful, award-worthy debut

JUST ADD WATER: Here comes a juicy pageturner from a buzzworthy new Jamaican author, pictured below.

A year after Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings rocked the literary world, wowing critics and gracing multiple bestseller and Top 10 lists, another Jamaica-set novel is making major noise abroad. Released just in time for the summer, Here Comes the Sun (LiveRight) by newcomer Nicole Dennis-Benn – a Jamaican-born writer now living in Brooklyn – is already one of the BBC’s “10 New Beach Reads to Devour” and a New York Times “Cool Reads for Hot Days” pick.

According to reviews, the novel delivers an equally heartfelt and provocative story that honestly earns the lavish critical praise. In other words, it more than lives up to the hype.

Largely set in the fictitious village of River Bank, it’s the story of Margot, who works at a swanky, tourist-friendly resort in the bustling, tourist-friendly mecca of Montego Bay, sending her younger sister Thandi to school. Sadly, theirs is also a reality in which sexuality is often traded in the name of survival. But butter mus’ come. So when plans for the construction of a new hotel is the talk of the village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but the chance to finally admit a shocking secret.

At the height of Dennis-Benn’s “vibrant, passionate” narrative arc emerge long-hidden scars and a voice that compellingly captures “the rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect.” One reviewer goes so far as to declare that the first-time novelist has penned “a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas.”

The New York Times hails Here Comes the Sun as a “lithe and artfully plotted debut,” while the Miami Herald says it offers “an excellent reason to look beyond the surface beauty of paradise” and is written with “eloquent prose and unsentimental clarity….. as bracing as a cold shower on a hot summer day.”

Meanwhile, Backpage says Dennis-Benn’s writing duly earns comparisons to Haitian heroine Edwidge Danticat (Untwine; Breath, Eyes, Memory), while Marie Claire predicts that Here Comes the Sun will “likely be a buzzword in all the upcoming literary competitions.”

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