A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James’ “epic” novel which uses multiple narrators to follow gang violence spanning from the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in Jamaica to the streets and apartments of New York, has just won the prestigious Man Booker Prize — netting the writer 50,000 pounds and an award handed to him by the Duchess of Cornwall (aka Camilla Parker-Bowles).
James’ novel was chosen after only two hours of deliberation, according to the judges, edging out nominees including Anne Tyler and Hanya Yanagihara’s much-discussed A Little Life.
Critics embraced the novel both when it was released and now, “In both its bold form and equally bold subject matter, it does exactly what Booker says on its tin: it tests and stretches the novel as art-form. It is not a conventionally told story written in standard English – this is not the novel as a bourgeois invention,” writes Arifa akbar in the Independent, calling the novel the “most thrilling and radical winner in years.”
“Spoof, nightmare, blood bath, poem, A Brief History of Seven Killings, eventually takes on a mesmerizing power. It makes its own kind of music, not like Marley’s, but like the tumult he couldn’t stop,” wrote Zachary Lazar in The New York Times a year ago.
Writer Daniel Jose Older, who was live-tweeting the announcement, captured some inspirational tidbits from James: