Literary Lines – A Brief History of Seven Killings

Literary Lines Seven Killings ed157 oct15A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James

Marlon James has won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for 2015 with his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings. The award, which has been running for over 45 years, recognises the best novel of the year, not necessarily the best author.

Jamaican born, James Marlon, who teaches creative writing at Macalester College in Minnesota, has based his book on the attempted assassination of Bob Marley by Kingston (Jamaica) gangsters and the CIA.

Not only is there a substantial cash prize for this award, it is the honour and recognition that is of the utmost importance to any author, many of the great ones being long then short-listed each year. Being voted by a panel of eminent judges acclaimed the best novel of the year, greatly improves sales of the book.

Whilst on the short-list, rave reviews poured in describing the book as being “the most astonishingly brilliant novel,” with the New York Times saying “epic in every sense of the word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzingly complex.”

The widely and greatly acclaimed Publishers Weekly, referred to by most book publishers and distributors, as well as the reading public, have said “no book this fall is more impressive.”

This big novel, which uses Jamaican patois, Harlem slang and liberal doses of scatological language, tells the story of a gang of cocaine-fuelled ghetto kids armed with automatic weapons who tried, but failed, to kill Marley in Jamaica before he gave a peace concert.

Marlon James describes his book as being “ a representation of political times and places, from the CIA intervention in Jamaica to the early years of crack gangs in New York and Miami.”

James’s writing, also described as poetical and punchy, includes Jamaican patios and Harlem slang giving more life to some of the characterization. Commenting on the violent scenes, James has been quoted as having said “I hoped the reader would see it in context.”

A colourful mix of characters, set in the 1970’s, A Brief History of Seven Killings may be a bit controversial, leaving room for thought and discussions, it is definitely a book to read.

For those aspiring would-be authors, Marlon James’ first book John Crows Devil, was rejected 70 times before he found a publisher!

Published by Oneworld, ISBN 9781780746357 rrp R230