Nicole Dennis-Benn

BA, Cornell University. MFA, Sarah Lawrence College. Author of the critically-acclaimed debut novel, Here Comes the Sun: a New York Times Editors' Choice; Kirkus Reviews and Amazon Best Book of the Year; and deemed one of the best books to read this summer and beyond by The New York Times, NPR, BBC, BuzzFeed, Book Riot, Bookish, Miami Herald, Elle, O Magazine, Marie Claire, Entertainment Weekly, Flavorwire, After Ellen, BookPage, Cosmopolitan, and Brooklyn Magazine, among others. The New York Times Book reviewer Jennifer Senior describes Here Comes the Sun as a “lithe, artfully-plotted debut”; Pulitzer Prize finalist Laila Lalami, as well as Booklist, have deemed it a “fantastic debut”; and Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James says “[Here Comes the Sun] is a story waiting to be told.” She has also been shortlisted for the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and Goodreads’ Best Debut Author of 2016. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, ELLE Magazine, Electric Literature, Lenny Letter, Catapult, Red Rock Review, Kweli Literary Journal, Mosaic, Ebony, and the Feminist Wire. Recipient of fellowships from MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Lambda, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Hurston/Wright, and Sewanee Writers’ Conference; a Richard and Julie Logsdon Fiction Prize; a Lambda Literary Award; and two of her stories have been nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize in Fiction SLC, 2017–

Graduate Courses

Writing 2017-2018

Fiction Workshop: The Art of the Novel


The novel is a vast landscape; but despite the liberal space, a good novel requires structure—direction, motive, and dynamic characters that will take readers through the terrain. Through reading, writing, and discussion, this intensive workshop will challenge students to expand on ideas, using the tools given to make the novel work as a unified, compelling whole. This course may be more beneficial for students who already have a novel in progress; however, it is also open to those who are just getting started. Each student will have the opportunity to workshop twice, up to 25 pages. We’ll discuss at least two selected works to aid our discussions on technique/craft in relation to shaping your novel. Excerpts of other books and stories will be assigned as we go along to better aid your individual storytelling process. Authors may include Chimamanda Adichie, NoViolet Bulawayo, Toni Morrison, Zadie Smith, Elizabeth Strout, and Jacqueline Woodson. Prompts will be given at the beginning of every workshop to get your creative juices flowing.