...there's no character in Dennis-Benn's novel that's anything less than complex, multifaceted, and breathtakingly real. That's part of what makes Here Comes the Sun one of the most stunningly beautiful novels in recent years ... Dennis-Benn's writing is so assured, so gorgeous, that it's hard to believe Here Comes the Sun is a debut novel. There are no wasted words; every sentence is constructed with care and a clear eye ... tough, beautiful and necessary, and it feels like a miracle.
This lithe, artfully-plotted debut concerns itself with the lives of those for whom tourists can barely be bothered to remove their Ray-Bans ... Much of the dialogue in Here Comes the Sun is written in this patois. It’s one of the book’s incidental pleasures, its own melodious tune ... Margot is one of the reasons to read this book. She is a startling, deeply memorable character. All of Ms. Dennis-Benn’s women are. The author has a gift for creating chiaroscuro portraits, capturing both light and dark. In almost every scene, she conveys how the molecules shift around Margot, the air vibrating with the tension between her stone-cold resolve and her electric sexuality ... Here Comes the Sun is deceptively well-constructed, with slow and painful reveals right through the end. Just who’s able to give history the slip, and at what cost, is one of the saddest things you’ll ever read.
Dennis-Benn has drawn each of her characters confidently, never shying from the fact that their choices are both problematic and necessary for survival in a town that is disappearing beneath their feet ... While desire, value and exploitation are themes that run throughout the book, Here Comes The Sun ultimately becomes a meditation on the perversion of love, and the unscrupulous means to attain it ... That is the paradox of paradise, as Dennis-Benn illustrates it here: the beautiful resort surrounded by squalor, the striving of the poor classes riddled with complications of its own. And happiness or love – sweetness– is just within grasp but rots when neglected.
In this brilliant debut novel, Nicole Dennis-Benn aims to present this riddle through rich prose, crackling dialogue and the lives of three unforgettable Jamaican women, each tangled in a legacy of trauma ... Dennis-Benn does an excellent job bringing the fate of River Bank into the heart of the story ... What’s devastating and achingly rendered is the seemingly hereditary nature of trauma, as each woman has suffered sexual abuse without an honest map on how to survive it ... [a] dazzling and gutting novel.
Here Comes the Sun sheds much-needed light on the island’s disenfranchised, particularly on the hardships suffered by its L.G.B.T. community ... There are times, too, when inauthentic details undermine the novel’s credibility...These editorial blind spots, while momentarily disengaging, don’t detract from the sincerity of Benn’s subject or her skillful handling of the plot ... readers of this important debut will no doubt see Jamaica in a new and different light.
The cycle of violence cannot be broken. It’s a fate that [Michelle] Cliff explored throughout her work, and Dennis-Benn carries the torch for another generation. Here Comes the Sun is a crucial book that commands attention. May this brave storytelling shine a brighter path for those who follow.
Sun makes for an emotionally devastating read, but Dennis-Benn nurtures her rocky terrain with generous amounts of love and compassion ... Delores takes her place among the most craven maternal models in all of literature...She's a fully developed, loathsome and irresistible villain ... Reading Here Comes the Sun is like listening to a bravura musical composition of varying themes and time signatures ... a novel that conjures something transcendent from the darker corners of human nature.
Takes a hard look at difficult subjects--class, poverty, identity, racism, homophobia, colorism ... a haunting portrait of an exploited community on the verge of irrevocable change ... Dennis-Benn fleshes out these characters confidently, shaping them as complicated and often contradictory ... Also remarkable is Here Comes the Sun's unflinching view of the economics of morality.
Nicole Dennis-Benn’s scorching debut is both desperately sad and impossible to forget ... Dennis-Benn’s writing is as lush as the island itself...But some readers might weary of the patois that Dennis-Benn streams throughout the book. Meant to give a truer sense of the rhythm and sounds of the place, instead, especially when pitched against the pure lyricism of the rest of her prose, it pulls you out of the story world.
...[a] harshly beautiful debut ... In saturated paragraphs and rich patois, Sun lays out the stark realities of an island whose entire economy relies on natural beauty, cheap labor, and limited resources—and explores what it means to live in a place where, as one character says, 'nobody love a black girl. Not even harself.'
This book has exactly the sort of cover that might entice you to grab it in the airport for a beach holiday. And it ticks all the boxes of great summer fiction: it’s engrossing, the writing is urgent, and the characters’ lives are deeply moving. But it’s no passport to escapism ... It is also an expertly timed examination of race, class, gender and sexuality, weaved seamlessly into an engaging narrative ... It would be easy to paint Delores as bitter, angry and hard, Margot as scheming, Thandi as naive. But Dennis-Benn’s characters are too complex for that kind of categorisation. They are far from amoral. They feel very human, very real. That’s a sign of brilliantly written fiction.
...a riveting story, albeit one sounding a lament — a kind of anti-lullaby ... Margot is a vivid, cunning and relentless character — emblem of her creator’s keen interest in the unholy alignment of poverty and tourism in Jamaica ... In her first book, Dennis-Benn can’t be expected to match the molecular-level beauty of [Marlon] James’ sentences, and she doesn’t. But Here Comes the Sun rises on its own merits.
In her generous, unrushed prose, Dennis-Benn delves with laudable skill into both the past and present lives of these women. Two of them—namely, Margot and Delores—are writ large, their personalities indomitable, and all the characters’ stories, rife with daily struggles and indignities, hardly seem to fit into the novel. Sometimes, the reader is left with the feeling that one or more of the characters might have been sidelined a tad too long ... Nevertheless the delicious twists and intriguing turns keep the novel going. They are executed well, with plenty of conflicts between and within the characters, making the novel a satisfying page-turner ... With this bold, new book, Dennis-Benn, a Jamaican who lives in New York and is a recipient of prestigious fellowships and prizes, stakes her rightful claim on the literary scene. She has written an interesting novel that concerns itself with issues we all, in some way or the other, must grapple with today. Although the novel’s execution buckles a little under the weight of ambition—the four main point of views and characters, and the multiplicity and complexity of revolving worlds—Dennis-Benn’s prose, which beams like the sun’s ray through the thickness of an ever-darkening plot, remains a true pleasure until the very end.