On Wednesday, Marlon James became the first Jamaican to win a Booker Prize for his novel A Brief History of Seven Murders. The story is a fictional account that takes off from the real life assassination attempt on reggae singer Bob Marley and members of his band and family in 1976, two days before the singer's scheduled "Peace Concert".
In the video above James describes his book and the attempted assassination (everyone survived). He says he has been fascinated by the people who carried out the assault and through his novel imagines what happened to them. With the assassination as a pivot, the novel delves into larger themes of Jamaican politics and society.
"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", said Michael Wood, chairman of the judging panel.
The book has been described as "a Tarantino remake of The Harder They Come but with a soundtrack by Bob Marley and a script by Oliver Stone and William Faulkner, with maybe a little creative boost from some primo ganja."
James, 44, who teaches creative writing at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, credits 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." He has two other books to his credit The Book of Night Women, published in 2009 and John Crow's Devil in 2010.