Art And Culture

Jamaican Wins Man Booker Prize

Jamaican Wins Man Booker Prize
Jamaican Wins Man Booker Prize

Marlon James was named as the first Jamaican winner of the Man Booker prize for fiction on Tuesday for his reggae- and drug-infused novel ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ inspired by an attempt to kill reggae star Bob Marley in 1976.

The 686-page novel tells the story of a gang of cocaine-fuelled ghetto kids armed with automatic weapons who tried but failed to kill Marley in the Jamaican capital Kingston before he gave a peace concert.

“The excitement of the book kept coming, I think, and we just felt it didn’t flag, and on re-reading it just got better,” author and academic Michael Wood, chair of the five-person panel of judges, told reporters.

“This book is a representation of political times and places, from the CIA intervention in Jamaica to the early years of crack gangs in New York and Miami,” Wood said, Reuters reported.

The panel selected the third novel by James, 44, who lives in Minneapolis and teaches writing, from a shortlist of six titles. “This is so surreal. I feel like I may wake up tomorrow and find all this was a dream,” James said.

James has been quoted, in an online interview with the Gawker Review of Books website, as saying the book breaks a lot of the rules he teaches his students at Macalester College in St. Paul.

“Half of the stuff in that book I don’t allow my students to do,” he said. “There’s a seven-page sentence in it. Even when the book ends, it just stops.”

The prize carries a top cash award of $76,000, but more importantly can be a huge shot in the arm for book sales.

Last year’s winner, Australian writer Richard Flanagan’s “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”, sold 800,000 copies worldwide.