Jamaican Author Makes History Again

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Marlon James is the first Jamaican to be shortlisted for and win the Man Booker Prize.

News Americas, LONDON, England, Weds. Oct. 14, 2015: Jamaican author Marlon James has made history again, winning the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction award last night on the heels of becoming the first Jamaican to make the shortlist just weeks ago.

The 44-year-old, now resident in Minneapolis, is the first Jamaican author to win the prize in its 47-year history. He won for his new novel, ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings ,’which was published by Oneworld Publications.

The 686-page epic with over 75 characters and voices is set in Kingston, Jamaica where James was born and is a fictional history of the attempted murder of Bob Marley in 1976.

Referring to Bob Marley only as ‘The Singer’ throughout, ‘A Brief History of Seven Killingsretells this near mythic assassination attempt through the myriad voices – from witnesses and FBI and CIA agents to killers, ghosts, beauty queens and Keith Richards’ drug dealer – to create a rich, polyphonic study of violence, politics and the musical legacy of Kingston of the 1970s.

James has credited Charles Dickens as one of his formative influences, saying: “I still consider myself a Dickensian in as much as there are aspects of storytelling I still believe in—plot, surprise, cliffhangers.”

“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,” commented Michael Wood, Chair of judges. “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.”

James’ name was announced by Michael Wood at a black-tie dinner at London’s Guildhall last night where the author was presented with a trophy from HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and a £50,000 check from Emmanuel Roman, Chief Executive of Man Group.

James will take part in his first public event as winner of the prize at Stylist LIVE on Thursday October 15th.

The Royal Mail will also issue a congratulatory postmark featuring the winner’s name, which will be applied to UK stamped mail from today, October 14th to Saturday October 17, 2015.

First awarded in 1969, the Man Booker Prize is recognized as the leading award for high quality literary fiction written in English. Its list of winners features many of the giants of the last four decades: from Salman Rushdieto Margaret AtwoodIris Murdoch to JM Coetzee.

Michael Wood was joined on the 2015 panel of judges by Ellah Wakatama AllfreyJohn BurnsideSam Leithand Frances Osborne.

The judges considered 156 books for this year’s prize, including a total of 18 call-ins.