Author(s): Marlon James
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 gunmen from West Kingston stormed his house with machine guns blazing. Marley survived and went on to perform at the free concert, but the next day he left the country, and didn't return for two years. Not a lot was recorded about the fate of the seven gunmen, but much has been said, whispered and sung about in the streets of West Kingston, with information surfacing at odd times, only to sink into rumour and misinformation. 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, conmen, beauty queens, FBI and CIA agents, reporters, journalists, and even Keith Richards' drug dealer. Marlon James's bold undertaking traverses strange landscapes and shady characters, as motivations are examined - and questions asked - in this compelling novel of monumental scope and ambition.
Shortlisted for Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2015.
'A vivid plunge into a crazed, violent and corrupt world, told through multiple narrators and executed with swaggering aplomb... the most original novel I've read in years.' -- Irvine Welsh 'This novel cracks open a world that needs to be known. It's scary and lyrically beautiful - you'll want to read whole pages aloud to strangers.' -- Russell Banks 'James is masterful at inhabiting a variety of voices and dialects, and he writes unflinchingly about the violence, drug-fueled and coldblooded, that runs through [Jamaica's] ghettos...James' fiction thus far is forming a remarkable portrait of Jamaica in the 19th and 20th centuries.' -- Kirkus Reviews 'A brilliant novel, highly recommended; one of those big, rich, magisterial works that lets us into a world we really don't know. -- Library Journal 'This novel should be required reading.' -- Publishers Weekly 'A Brief History of Seven Killings is a masterpiece. Hinged around the 1976 assassination attempt on Bob Marley in Kingston, this massive poetic novel is a gripping, riveting read. Intuitively original, deeply erudite and intelligent, told from multiple points-of-view, it unravels the lethal world of mid-1970s Jamaican politics and its decades-long consequences in the deadly Yardie world of crack-dealing. Magnificent.' -- Chris Salewicz
Marlon James was born in Jamaica. He is the author of The Book of Night Women, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He teaches at Macalester College, Minnesota, USA.