KGB: Behind the Book - Dennis-Benn, Dermansky & Chung

December 08, 2016
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Nicole Dennis-Benn’s stunning debut novel, Here Comes the Sun, has received widespread critical and popular acclaim and was shortlisted for the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and named a New York Times Editors’ Choice and an Amazon Best Book of July 2016.  Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Here Comes the Sun sheds light on the island’s disenfranchised, particularly on the hardships suffered by its LGBT community, as it focuses on a family facing the impending destruction of its community in Montego Bay, a place most outsiders see simply as paradise.  Her work has appeared in The New York Times, ELLE Magazine, Electric Literature, Lenny Letter, Kweli Literary Journal, Ebony, and elsewhere.  She has been awarded fellowships from MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Lambda, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Hurston/Wright, and Sewanee Writers’ Conference.  Her writing has been awarded a Richard and Julie Logsdon Fiction Prize and two of her stories have been nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize in Fiction.  She was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, and lives with her wife in Brooklyn, New York.

“In Here Comes the Sun, Nicole Dennis-Benn has written the ultimate antibeach novel . . . . This lithe, artfully-plotted debut concerns itself with the lives of those for whom tourists can barely be bothered to remove their Ray-Bans, and the issues it tackles—the oppressive dynamics of race, sexuality and class in post-colonial Jamaica—have little to do with the rum-and-reggae island of a Sandals commercial . . . The author has a gift for creating chiaroscuro portraits, capturing both light and dark . . . Here Comes the Sun is deceptively well-constructed, with slow and painful reveals right through the end.”
– Jennifer Senior, The New York Times

Marcy Dermansky’s wildly imaginative and mordantly funny new novel, The Red Car, was named one of the most anticipated books of 2016 by The Millions.  A razor-sharp exploration of a women’s search for self-realization, The Red Car follows Leah as she undertakes a road trip colored by sex and sorrow and surreal delight to claim an unexpected inheritance from her former boss – a red sports car.  Marcy is also the author of the critically acclaimed novels Bad Marie and Twins.  Bad Marie was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writer’s Pick, a finalist in the Morning News Tournament of Books, and named one of the best novels of the year in Esquire.  Her first novel, Twins, was a New York Times Editor’s Choice Pick.  Marcy’s short fiction has been widely published and anthologized, appearing in McSweeney’s, Five Chapters, The Indiana Review, and elsewhere.  Her essay “Maybe I Loved You” appeared in the best-selling anthology Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York.  Marcy has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and The Edward Albee Foundation.  She is the winner of the Smallmouth Press Andre Dubus Novella Award and Story Magazine Carson McCuller short story prize.  She lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her daughter Nina.

“In vivid, dreamlike prose . . . . Dermansky delivers a captivating novel about the pursuit of joy that combines dreamlike logic with dark humor, wry observation, and gritty feminism.”
– Kirkus (Starred Review)

Sonya Chung’s masterful new novel, The Loved Ones, is a multigenerational saga about family, race, and difference.  In prose recalling Elena Ferrante or Clarice Lispector, The Loved Ones follows the intertwining lives of Charles Lee, the African-American patriarch of a biracial family, whose connection with a caregiver, Hannah, uncovers her Korean immigrant family’s past flight from tradition and war.  Sonya is also the author of Long for This World.  She is a staff writer for The Millions and founding editor of Bloom, and is a recipient of a Pushcart Prize nomination, the Charles Johnson Fiction Award, the Bronx Council on the Arts Writers’ Fellowship & Residency, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and a Key West Literary Seminars residency.  Sonya’s stories, reviews, and essays have appeared in The Threepenny Review, Crab Orchard Review, Tin House, The Huffington Post, Sonora Review, The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books, Short: An International Anthology, and BOMB Magazine, among others.  She has taught fiction writing at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop, NYU, the College of Mount St. Vincent, and Columbia University.  Currently she lives in New York City and teaches at Skidmore College.

“A gorgeous multigenerational saga of love and race, loss and belonging . . . Quietly expansive, the novel moves between the stories of the two families, alternating glimpses of the past with the present . . . Every last one of Chung’s characters is wholly alive and breathtakingly human . . . Elegant and empathetic, a book impossible to put down.”
– Kirkus (Starred Review)

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Behind the Book is a small literacy nonprofit that gets kids excited about reading by connecting them with contemporary writers and illustrators.  Working with low-income students in the 1st-12th grades, we bring authors and their books into individual classrooms in curriculum-based programs that incorporate direct and sustained interaction between students and authors.  In workshop fashion, students do original writing; in elementary school, students create illustrated books.  All students receive copies of authors’ books to keep as their own.  Our goal is to build a new generation of readers and writers.  Since our founding, we have worked with nearly 13,000 students and donated more than 18,000 books to students and school libraries.