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“This book is based on the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in
1976, who is known in the book as ‘The Singer.’ I found this story to be
quite relevant to what’s happening in Mexico: politics in upheaval,
corrupt police, the American CIA are involved. In this world, Jamaican
citizens aren’t allowed to rise above their station. A fascinating read,
though potentially difficult because it is written in dialect.”
"I read it in a single day–I had to immerse myself in the language and the story. There are twelve different narrators, for one, and most of the book is written in Jamaican patois, for two. I spent some serious time with furrowed brow, trying to make head and tails of the narrative, but what I took away from James’ novel is that it absolutely deserves the praise and awards. There are some details so subtle it took me rereading the paragraph several times to get them, or flipping back and forth over hundreds of pages to make sure I had followed the moment correctly. There are references and phrases that linger like the ghosts who themselves linger in the pages. It is a remarkable, remarkable novel. I don’t know that I can say I enjoyed it–how can one really enjoy such a book?–but reading it was immensely valuable to me.”— Jan
On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.
Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters—assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts—A Brief History of Seven Killings is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the 1970s, to the crack wars in 1980s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the 1990s. Brilliantly inventive and stunningly ambitious, this novel is a revealing modern epic that will secure Marlon James’ place among the great literary talents of his generation.
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. His first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He teaches at Macalester College.