cover image Here Comes the Sun

Here Comes the Sun

Nicole Dennis-Benn. Norton/Liveright, $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-63149-176-4

A stormy family lives through Jamaica’s early 1990s drought in Dennis-Benn’s first novel. Delores sells trinkets at a tourist market; her daughter Margot, whom Delores pimped out when Margot was very young, now works as a front desk clerk at a hotel. Margot turns tricks after hours to make extra money to pay her much younger sister Thandi’s tuition at a Catholic school. Margot’s romantic yearning is directed towards Verdene, a rich woman considered a witch by their village because she is a lesbian. Thandi, the unhappy recipient of her family’s hopes, feverishly tries to bleach her skin white and to resist her attraction to her childhood friend Charles, whose poverty would impede her quest for upward mobility. The novel, with its knife fights and baroque blackmail schemes, often threatens to stray from operatic intensity to soap opera melodrama. But Dennis-Benn redeems it with her striking portrayal of a vibrant community where everyone is related and every action reverberates, and her unstinting description of how shame whips desire into submission. (July)