Book on Marley assassination attempt gets recognition
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, which chronicles the story of the attempted assassination of reggae legend Bob Marley, has made the longlist for the prestigious Man Booker Prize. The announcement, made on Wednesday, lists James' work as one of 13 novels in the running for the award and makes him the first Jamaica-born novelist nominated for the prize.
In the novel, James revisits the assassination attempt on the life of the late reggae icon and looks at what could have sparked the shooting. The assassination attempt took place at the singer's home on Old Hope Road in St Andrew in December 1976. Marley, his wife, Rita, manager Don Taylor, and friend Louis Simpson, were all injured in the incident. Documented reports are that at the time of the shooting, the singer and his band, The Wailers, were rehearsing for the Smile Jamaica concert, scheduled for December 5, 1976 at the National Heroes Park. Marley survived the ordeal and went on to perform at the free concert, but left the island the following day and did not return for two years.
Inspired by the historic event, A Brief History of Seven Killings, chronicles the series of events told by ghosts, killers, members of Parliament, beauty queens, FBI and CIA agents, and the media.
James was born in Kingston, Jamaica. He graduated from the University of the West Indies with a degree in literature and is no stranger to winning awards. In 2005, his debut novel, John Crow's Devil, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and in 2010, his novel titled The Book of Night Women won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. A Brief History of Seven Killings was a finalist in this year's National Book Critics Circle Award. James also teaches a creative writing course at Macalester College in Minnesota, United States.
This year's longlist of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges chaired by Michael Wood, and also comprising Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, John Burnside, Sam Leith, and Frances Osborne. The judges considered 156 books for this year's prize. In a release posted to the award's official website, head judge Michael Wood said the range and form of the nominees was amazing.
"We had a great time choosing this list. Discussions weren't always peaceful, but they were always very friendly," he said. "We were lucky in our companions and the submissions were extraordinary. The longlist could have been twice as long, but we're more than happy with our final choice. The range of different performances and forms of these novels is amazing. All of them do something exciting with the language they have chosen to use."
The list of 13 will be cut down to six on September 15, when the shortlisted books will be announced. The winner will be announced on October 13. The Man Booker Prize is recognised as the leading prize for quality fiction in English first awarded in 1969. This is the second year that the prize has been open to writers of any nationality, writing originally in English and published in the United Kingdom (UK). Previously, the prize was open only to authors from the UK and the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe.