Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 1970. His most recent novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, won the 2015 Man Booker Prize, making James the first Jamaican author to take home the United Kingdom’s most prestigious literary award. The novel also won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and the Minnesota Book Award. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a New York Times Notable Book.
The plot of A Brief History of Seven Killings revolves around the assassination attempt on Bob Marley in the late 1970s and Jamaica’s own clandestine battles during the cold war. “It’s epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex. It’s also raw, dense, violent, scalding, darkly comic, exhilarating and exhausting—a testament to Mr. James’s vaulting ambition and prodigious talent,” writes Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times.
James is also the author of The Book of Night Women, which won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Minnesota Book Award and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award and an NAACP Image Award. His first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice.
“James is part of a new generation of Caribbean writers whose main cultural reference, aside from their home countries, is the United States…,” writes Larry Rohter in the New York Times. “These writers share some of the concerns of American peers like Junot Díaz and Edwidge Danticat and view the questions of identity and authenticity, which preoccupy older writers like George Lamming and the Nobel laureates Derek Walcott and V. S. Naipaul, as largely settled.”
James graduated from the University of the West Indies in 1991 with a degree in language and literature and from Wilkes University in 2006 with a master’s degree in creative writing. His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared widely, including in Esquire, Granta, and the Caribbean Review of Books. He lives in Minneapolis and teaches English and creative writing at Macalester College.
A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014)
The Book of Night Women (2009)
John Crow’s Devil (2005)
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“Behind the Books with Marlon James”
Rolling Stone: “How Rebel Novelist Escaped Jamaica to Win Top Literary Prize”
The New York Times: “From Jamaica to Minnesota to Myself” by Marlon James
The New York Times book review of A Brief History of Seven Killings by Michiko Kakutani
Profile in the New York Times: “Once on This Island” by Larry Rohter
Video: Interview on BBC World TV