Nominated by:

Jamaica Library Service, Kingston, Jamaica

Publisher of nominated edition:

Riverhead Books, USA

Published in the UK by Oneworld

A Brief History of Seven Killings

Marlon James      

2016 Shortlist

Judges’ comments

Marlon James is a young and extremely talented Americo-Caribbean writer who has just won the Man Booker for 2016 and quite deservingly. A Brief History of Seven Killings is a powerful novel packed with violence and corruption, inspired by the assassination attempt on Bob Marley in Kingston. It has the aura of a masterpiece, for besides being original, intelligent and irresistible, it also boldly surveys and exposes the murderous world of politics and not only in Jamaica in the 1970s and early 80s. This is a story which might have happened in almost any part of the present-day world and its general message is an appeal to the word at large. The novel incorporates an enormous cast of characters, but this does not impede the reading at all. The story is gripping, its messages grim and alarming.

About the Book

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions in Kingston, seven unnamed gunmen stormed the singer’s house, machine guns blazing. The attack wounded Marley, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Little was officially released about the gunmen, but rumors abounded regarding the assassins’ fates. A Brief History of Seven Killings is James’s fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time in Jamaica’s history and beyond. Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters—assassins, drug dealers, journalists, and even ghosts—James brings to life the people who walked the streets of 1970s Kingston, who dominated the crack houses of 1980s New York, and who reemerged into a radically altered Jamaica of the 1990s.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 1970. His most recent novel A Brief History of Seven Killings won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for fiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction, and the Minnesota Book Award. It was also a New York Times Notable Book. He is also the author of The Book of Night Women, which won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Minnesota Book Award. His first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. James lives in Minneapolis.

Librarian’s Comments

A gripping novel set in Jamaica in the 70s begins with the attempted assassination of the reggae icon Bob Marley, referred to as the “Singer”. Turbulent events of post-independence Jamaica with tales of gang violence, poverty and drugs collide with explosive results. James chronicles a powerful story of how inner-city culture can change a person.

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