Marlon James beats NigerianChigozie Obiomaand 4 others to become the first Jamaican author to win the prize in its 47-year history for his 686-page epic 'A Brief History of Seven Killings'.
Jamaican author beats Nigerian Chigozie Obioma and 4 others to win the Man Booker prize 2015
Marlon James beats Nigerian Chigozie Obioma and 4 others to become the first Jamaican author to win the prize in its 47-year history for his 686-page epic 'A Brief History of Seven Killings'.
A Brief History of Seven Killings, a fictional history of the attempted murder of Bob Marley in 1976, was “an extraordinary book”, said Michael Wood, the chair of judges.
“It was very exciting, very violent, full of swearing. It was a book we didn’t actually have any difficulty deciding on – it was a unanimous decision, a little bit to our surprise.”
Judges called it a "crime novel that moves at a terrific pace and will come to be seen as a classic of our times".
The 686-page novel, which uses Jamaican patois, Harlem slang and liberal doses of ghetto language, 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 in 1976 before he gave a peace concert.
"Jamaica has a really really rich literary tradition, it is kind of surreal being the first and I hope I'm not the last and I don't think I will be," James, 44, said after winning the award.
James has credited Charles Dickens as one of his formative influences, saying 'I still consider myself a Dickensian in as much as there are aspects of storytelling I still believe in—plot, surprise, cliff hangers.'
The others who were nominated for the prize include Chigozie Obioma - the second Nigerian to be nominated after Ben Okri. At 28, Obioma was the youngest of this year's shortlisted authors, the same age as 2013 winner Eleanor Catton.
This year's Man Booker shortlist featured two authors from the UK, two from the US and one each from Jamaica and Nigeria.
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 open only to authors from the UK and Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe.
James' first novel, John Crow's Devil, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. His second novel, The Book of Night Women, won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award.
James, who currently lives in Minneapolis, US, can expect a dramatic boost in sales following his win. After A Brief History of Seven Killings was named on the Booker shortlist last month sales tripled to more than 1,000 copies a week, according to Nielsen Book Research.
Last year's Booker Prize winner, Australian writer Richard Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North", has sold 800,000 copies worldwide, a statement announcing the prize results said.
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