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Book 93: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Book 93: A Brief History of Seven Killings.
Author: Marlon James, 2014.
Genre: Period Fiction. Drugs. Political Thriller.
Other Details: ebook. 704 pages.

JAMAICA, 1976 - Seven gunmen storm Bob Marley’s house, machine guns blazing. The reggae superstar survives, but the gunmen are never caught. From the acclaimed author of 'The Book of Night Women' comes a dazzling display of masterful storytelling exploring this near-mythic event. Spanning three decades and crossing continents, 'A Brief History of Seven Killings' chronicles the lives of a host of unforgettable characters – slum kids, one-night stands, drug lords, girlfriends, gunmen, journalists, and even the CIA. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

When the first narrative voice in this novel starts talking about the nature of his existence after his murder I was caught up on this magnificent novel. Certainly it also proved quite challenging even in terms of language as a number of the characters speak in Jamaican patois.

Marlon James has done an amazing job of capturing those voices, each emerges as a very distinct personality and this allows them to weave this powerful tale. I will warn that the language and violence are very strong. There are many more than seven killings and it is a long novel demanding close reading. Yet even with its dark themes there are still moments of humour and affirmation.

There have been comparisons between this novel and the work of Quentin Tarantino and it is easy to see why as both men explore the aesthetics of violence and challenge traditional narrative styles. The novel has been optioned by HBO and I certainly will be watching for it.

This is the first of my 2015 Man Booker shortlist and it quickly became an early favourite for its strength and unique chorus of voices. It really deserves the title of masterpiece.
Tags: drugs, literary, man booker winner, period fiction (20th century), political thriller, race
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