New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Culture
  2. Books
14 October 2015updated 12 Oct 2023 10:56am

Marlon James wins the 2015 Man Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings

A sprawling novel about an assassination attempt on Bob Marley is the first book by a Jamaican author to win the prize.

By Tom Gatti

Marlon James has become the first Jamaican author to win the Man Booker Prize since the award was founded in 1969. His third novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, was published earlier this year by Oneworld: it is the first Booker winner for this relatively young independent imprint that initially focused on nonfiction but has since branched out into publishing fiction, often with an international focus. 

James, born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1970, gave up writing fiction after his first novel was rejected 78 times. Eventually a fellow writer persuaded him to retrieve the manuscript and John Crow’s Devil was published in 2005. At the ceremony last night at London’s Guildhall James dedicated the award to his father, a devotee of Coleridge and Shakespeare who used to challenge his son to “solliloquy battles” – competitions to see who could recite the longer Shakespearean monologue.

A Brief History of Seven Killings is a sprawling, violent, multi-voiced narrative circling around an assassination attempt on Bob Marley in 1976. Randy Boyagoda, who reviewed the book in the New Statesman, called it a a  effort” and “a great – if grim – success.” Read the full review here.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
We need an urgent review of UK pensions
The future of private credit
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors