And the Man Booker Prize 2015 goes to…. James Marlon for ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’

by October 18, 2015


When Marlon James wrote his first novel, little did he know that he would experience both, the highs and the lows of the literary profession within a span of a decade. When the Jamaican author’s debut novel ‘John Crow’s Devil’ was rejected by 78 publishers, James said that he almost gave up writing, deleting the manuscripts from all the computers as a result. However, we must be thankful to his good judgment as he continued his literary career as otherwise we would not have seen this literary genius receive the glorious Man Booker Prize for Fiction at the hands of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at a black tie event on Tuesday night at London’s Guildhall.


Yes, the prestigious Man Booker Prize for Fiction novel for the year 2015 went to the Jamaican author Marlon James whose brilliant book ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ based around the attempted assassination of the Reggae King Bob Marley in the political and socially unstable nation of Jamaica in the 1970s made the Booker Prize panelists reach a unanimous decision to award him in less than two hours.

Containing more than seventy- five characters, ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ is a thrilling novel with the reader unable to guess who the next narrator of the story will be, as per Michael Wood, chair of the judges for this year’s Booker Prize.

The novel begins with the attempted assassination of Bob Marley who is supposed to perform at ‘Smile Jamaica’, a public concert organised by the then Prime Minister of the nation. This is where reality ends and James’ imagination takes over, he writes about the lives of the seven ‘could have been’ assassins who are never caught. The story spans three decades encompassing narratives by the witnesses and bystanders along with the assassins-to-be.


The 44 year old James deemed receiving the award as “surreal” and stated his gratitude for his father who was instrumental in shaping his “literary sensibilities”. Well, these literary sensibilities also made him richer by £50,000, the prize money that comes with the prominent Booker Prize.

The title made Marlon James the first Jamaican to win the Man Booker in the award’s 47- year history. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and teaching English and creative writing at Macalester College, James hopes that his win would bring more attention to the kind of writing coming from the Caribbean.

The year saw six authors being shortlisted for the prominent literary award which we think are must reads for every book lover. The longlist included Marlon James for ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’, Tom McCarthy for Satin Island, Chigozie Obioma for ‘The Fishermen’, Sunjeev Sahota forThe Year of the Runaways’, Anne Tyler for A Spool of Blue Thread’, and Hanya Yanagihara for A Little Life.


‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ is not new to literary fame; the novel has previously received the ‘Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction’ as well as the ‘Minnesota Book Award for Novel & Short Story’, in the year 2015.

Beset with content that may not appeal to the sophisticated senses of some due to its extensive use of slang and swearing, James’ 680 page book is nevertheless a masterpiece that effectively takes the reader on a journey to explore the chaotic times of Jamaica in the 1970s. If you believe you have the stomach to digest the violence described in the book, then go ahead and join the millions who have praised ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’…