Marlon James made literary history by becoming the first Jamaican author to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize for his book A Brief History of Seven Killings. The 44-year-old's novel was inspired by the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the 1970s. James said, “This is so surreal. I feel like I may wake up tomorrow and find all this was a dream.”

James was announced the winner on Tuesday night at the Guildhall in London. He beat British-Indian author Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of Runaways, Nigerian writer Chigozie Obioma and two others to the prize. Receiving the award, the Jamaican said a huge part of the novel had been inspired by reggae music. He said he hoped his win would bring more attention to Caribbean writing.

Michael Wood, chair of the judges, described James's book as the “most exciting” one on the shortlist. Wood said, “[It was] very exciting, very violent, full of swearing. It was a book we didn’t actually have any difficulty deciding on – it was a unanimous decision, a little bit to our surprise.”

Here is an interview of James, where he describes his book and the attempted assassination on Bob Marley (everyone survived):


Reviews of A Brief History of Seven Killings:

It’s epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex. – The New York Times

It tells the story of Jamaica in the 1970s and early 80s, when the guns flooded in, CIA agents took up residence, and the island went through one of its most violently defining moments. – The Guardian