abstract: Jamaican born Marlon James was only 6 years old when his country's iconic singer, Bob Marley, faced an assassination attempt in his home by seven gunmen from the burrough of West Kingston, Jamaica. The fact that the author's mother and father were both police officers at the time leads you to understand Marlon's fascination with the details surrounding the case. His mother went on to become a prominent detective, his father became a lawyer, and Marlon James went on to become the winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize on October 13th with wide audience approval for his 704 page, sprawling character-driven historical fiction. It's titled, A Brief History of Seven Killings (published by Riverhead Books). Listen to this interview with Miami Book Fair host Jeffrey Brown who asks James about his relationship to the story, how it ended up so long, his use of characters and distinct dialects, and the tie-in to the Cold War era involving the CIA as well as the intricacies of criminal justice and political system in Jamaica during the period.
MBooker's describes "A Brief History" thus,
"On 3 December 1976, just weeks before the general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica concert to ease political tensions, seven men from West Kingston stormed his house with machine guns. Marley survived and went on to perform at the free concert. But the next day
article: November 18, 2015 — he left the country and didn’t return for two years.
Inspired by this near-mythic event, A Brief History of Seven Killings takes the form of an imagined oral biography, told by ghosts, witnesses, killers, members of parliament, drug dealers, con men, beauty queens, FBI and CIA agents, reporters, journalists, and even Keith Richards' drug dealer. The story traverses strange landscapes and shady characters, as motivations are examined – and questions asked."
Marlon James was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1970.
James’ first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, and was a New York Times Editor’s Choice. His second novel, The Book of Night Women, won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award.
James’ writing has appeared in Esquire, Granta, Publisher’s Weekly and The Caribbean Review of Books.—The Booker Prize Website.