Here Comes the Sun
by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Oneworld is a small London publisher that has won the previous two Man Booker prizes: with Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout. Here Comes the Sun is, then, a debut novel with expectations, all the greater since Nicole Dennis-Benn was born, like Marlon James, in Kingston, Jamaica. Her story opens boldly: “The long hours Margot works at the hotel are never documented.” This catches Margot’s struggles “away from the fantasy” of island tourism, and Dennis-Benn’s desire to narrate unseen lives. Margot’s secret existence is sleeping with patrons of the resort to support her 15-year-old sister, Thandi, a student at a Catholic school. This places differing strains on Margot, her mother, Delores, who treats Thandi as the second coming, and on Thandi herself. The tragedy is that Margot’s dreams have been dictated for her, by Delores and more broadly by colonisation. The novel’s central irony is that while Thandi is revered for her brain she wants only to be loved for her looks: the very nightmare Margot is trying to escape. Here Comes the Sun is brave, brilliantly written and moving.