Author, Researcher, Peace & Conflict Professional

Awards

  • 2016/2017 apexart New York City (NYC) Fellow
  • 2014 Winner Burt Award for African Literature, Kenya Chapter
  • 2010 Penguin Prize for African Writing nominee
  • Ist Prize, Adult Fiction Category – NBDCK  Literary Awards, September 2008 Book Week

Jamaican author Marlon James has won the Man Booker Prize for his novel inspired by the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the 1970s. James was announced as the winner of the £50,000 prize in London on Tuesday.

Michael Wood, chair of the judges, described A Brief History of Seven Killings as the "most exciting" book on the shortlist.

The 680-page epic was "full of surprises" as well as being "very violent" and "full of swearing".

James is the first Jamaican author to win the Man Booker Prize. Receiving the award, he said a huge part of the novel had been inspired by reggae music.

"The reggae singers Bob Marley and Peter Tosh were the first to recognise that the voice coming out of our mouths was a legitimate voice for fiction and poetry."

He admitted it was "so surreal" to win and dedicated the award to his late father who had shaped his "literary sensibilities".

Set across three decades, the novel uses the true story of the attempt on the life of reggae star Marley to explore the turbulent world of Jamaican gangs and politics.

Wood said the judges had come to a unanimous decision in less than two hours.

He praised the book's "many voices" - it contains more than 75 characters - which "went from Jamaican slang to Biblical heights".

He said: "One of the pleasures of reading it is that you turn the page and you're not quite sure who the next narrator will be."

But he acknowledged that some of the content might be too much for some readers.

More judges comments: ‘This book is startling in its range of voices and registers, running from the patois of the street posse to The Book of Revelation. It is a representation of political times and places, from the CIA intervention in Jamaica to the early years of crack gangs in New York and Miami. ‘It is a crime novel that moves beyond the world of crime and takes us deep into a recent history we know far too little about. It moves at a terrific pace and will come to be seen as a classic of our times.’

 
In addition to his £50,000 prize and trophy, James also receives a designer bound edition of his book and a further £2,500 for being short-listed.

In subsequent interviews since his Booker win, James has said that he almost gave up on writing after his debut novel was rejected by publishers almost 80 times.

 

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