The first Jamaican to win The Man Booker Prize, Marlon James is an author that refuses to shy away from realism and vulgarity in his writing. His third novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, was unanimously declared this year's winner by the judges and there is no doubt that it deserved recognition. Filled with violence, sex, humour and history, James's novel tells a fictional story around the attempted assassination of Bob Marley involving CIA agents, gay hitmen, crime bosses and many more dynamic characters. But, although each narrative is centred around Bob Marley, the iconic singer is only a looming figure whose shadow encompasses James's many characters. A Brief History of Seven Killings is a tapestry of woven narratives. It's a cacophonous collection of voices, each calling out in desperation to be heard and to have their stories known. James's novel not only shines a light on a dark piece of Jamaican history, it dissects it. He gives his readers a closer look at the people and writes his characters with the intention of giving them potential to be greater than the situations in which they were born. This year's winner is a novel with many dimensions and a vibrant personality that is unapologetic and definitely not for the faint of heart.
Words by Alicia Hempsted