Thu | Apr 27, 2017

Marlon James makes Man Booker Prize final six

Published:Saturday | September 19, 2015 | 9:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Marlon James

Jamaica-born author Marlon James has been shortlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize for Fiction for his novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings. He was named among the final six on Tuesday at a press conference at the offices of major sponsors, Man Group.

The judges remarked on the variety of writing styles, cultural heritage and literary backgrounds of the writers on the shortlist, which includes new authors alongside established names. Two authors come from the United Kingdom, two from the United States and one apiece from Jamaica and Nigeria.

James is the first Jamaica-born author to be shortlisted for the prize. His entry chronicles the story of the attempted assassination of reggae legend Bob Marley. In the novel, James looks at what could have sparked the shooting which took place at the singer's home on Old Hope Road in St Andrew in December 1976. A Brief History of Seven Killings chronicles the series of events told by ghosts, killers, members of parliament, beauty queens, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency agents, and the media. Marley, his wife Rita, manager Don Taylor, and friend Louis Simpson, were all injured in the incident.

The chair of judges responsible for selecting the finalists said that having reread all 13 books that made the shortlist in August, they found new pleasures in each and that the final decision was a difficult one. "Only on rare occasions does celebration come so closely aligned with regret. The regret of what we left out was tempered by the enormous excitement we have in presenting the six books on the shortlist," said judge Michael Wood. "The writers on the shortlist present an extraordinary range of approaches to fiction. They come from very different cultures and are themselves at very different stages of their careers."

Manny Roman, CEO of sponsors Man Group, said he was proud to be a part of a process that recognises the talent and hard work of authors of all nationalities. "The prize underscores Man Group's charitable focus on literacy and education, as well as our commitment to excellence and entrepreneurship," he said. "Together with the wider charitable activities of the Man Booker Foundation, the prize plays a very important role in promoting literary excellence that we are honoured to support."

This is the second year that the prize, first awarded in 1969, has been open to writers of any nationality, writing originally in English and published in the UK. Previously, the prize was opened only to authors from the UK & Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe. The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The winner will receive a further £50,000.

The 2015 winner will be announced on October 13 in London's Guildhall at a black-tie dinner that brings together the shortlisted authors and well-known figures from the literary world. The ceremony will be broadcasted by the BBC.

shereita.grizzle@gleanerjm.com