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African American Women Writers

Dissatisfied with the educational opportunities and lack of mobility in Jamaica, Nicole Dennis-Benn moved to New York City to live with her father and stepmother after her 1999 high school graduation. She earned a bachelor's degree in nutrition sciences at Cornell University in 2003. She then attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Feeling obligated to obtain a medical degree to fulfill her parents' dreams for her, Dennis-Benn studied public health. Although she often considered changing her focus to writing, she earned a master of public health degree, with a concentration in behavioral aspects of health/reproductive health and women's studies in 2006. Dennis-Benn returned to New York and, for several years, worked in public health. She began blogging under the pseudonym Grace Jones and writing stories. Around 2008, while working as a research project manager at Columbia University, she decided to pursue a degree in writing rather than a doctorate in public health. Inspired by a former English professor who had urged her to take her writing more seriously, Dennis-Benn enrolled in Sarah Lawrence College and completed a master of fine arts degree in 2012. Dennis-Benn has written numerous short stories, interviews, and essays that have appeared in literary magazines as well as in the New York Times, Ebony, and Feminist Wire. Her first novel, Here Comes the Sun, was published in 2016. It received the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for lesbian fiction and was named one of the best books of 2016 by the New York Times, Kirkus, NPR, BuzzFeed, the San Francisco Chronicle, Barnes and Noble, and Entertainment Weekly.*

Genre: Coming-of-age stories; LGBTQIA fiction; Literary fiction; Political fiction; Psychological fiction

More about Nicole Dennis-Benn at ProQuest One Literature


*Lightner, Barb. “Nicole Dennis-Benn.” Literary Biographies, Nov. 2018, pp. 1–3. Literary Reference Center.

By Nicole Dennis-Benn

About Nicole Dennis-Benn