Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Heads up, reader: rave review (and a surfeit of superlatives) ahead. It’s unavoidable. As a debut novel, Here Comes the Sun is staggeringly spectacular, and marks the beginning of what will surely be a remarkable literary career. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough, and am already looking forward to whatever Nicole Dennis-Benn produces next.

On the surface, Here Comes the Sun is an exploration of the devastating effects of tourism, a disturbing remnant of colonialism, on the local community. But the story goes much deeper: told through the eyes of four women, the novel is a close, thoughtful examination of class, race, sexuality and (institutionalised, intergenerational) gender violence. These characters take us deep into their world through their eyes and all their senses, in a seamlessly woven narrative.

Reading Here Comes the Sun is a rich experience, an extravaganza for the senses: the sights and smells of Jamaica are sumptuously evoked; skin and sex and touch are made real on these pages – and all the responses sex and desire can ignite are part of the reading experience: languor, disdain, forgetting, remembering, repulsion, bliss. Here Comes the Sun is a sensual novel, in the most profound way. These black women’s stories rise off the page. They each bear immeasurable pain, due to the conditions of their life near Montego Bay, where they live in desperation and poverty. Thandi, the youngest (and the only possibility for a better future), feels a need to lighten her skin. Her sister Margot, whose life is full of secrets, is employed at a resort hotel and relies on sex work to pay for Thandi’s schooling. Delores, their mother, charms tourists out of their dollars at the local market. Verdene, the woman Margot loves, is the target of hatred and prejudice within the town. These women feel real, human, authentic.

This is brilliantly written fiction. Don’t miss it.

Ed Moreno works as a bookseller at Readings Carlton.