The Man Booker Prize winner has been announced, and it’s totally worth bumping this novel to the top of your reading list for this month.
The novel by Marlon James is called A Brief History of Seven Killings, and if you’re not already gripped by the title, you will by the end of page one. The book begins with a piece of factual history you’re likely unfamiliar with: a 1976 attack on Bob Marley.
The attack wounded Marley, his wife, his manager and bystanders, but little was ever released about the attacks in reality. Thankfully, James’ imagination is here to fill in the gaps. The novel follows the crime and its repercussions through the next several decades — with startling insights about Jamaican culture and issues like gang wars and drug trafficking along the way.
“I thought it would be considered as one of those experimental novels that no one reads,” James said at the award ceremony, according to The New York Times. “I’m not an easy writer to like.”
The world begs to differ. James certainly has a unique experimental style — he incorporates different dialects, free verse, and stream-of-consciousness in the novel — but his work is also incredibly moving to read. He’s written two previous novels, also great: John Crow’s Devil about rival preachers in a Jamaican village, and The Book of Night Women about a female slave on a sugar plantation.
James is the first Jamaican-born author to receive the $76,000 prize, and it’s well deserved.
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