LONDON, England CMC – Author, Marlon James, the first Jamaica-born author to be shortlisted for the prize, has won the 50,000 pound (one British pound =US$1.51 cents) Man Booker Prize, on Tuesday, for his novel inspired by the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the 1970s.
Michael Wood, chair of the judges, described “A Brief History of Seven Killings” as the “most exciting” book on the shortlist, adding that the 680-page publication was “full of surprises” as well as being “very violent” and “full of swearing”.
Wood said, the judges had come to a unanimous decision in less than two hours and praised the book’s “many voices” which “went from Jamaican slang to Biblical heights.
“One of the pleasures of reading it is that you turn the page and you’re not quite sure who the next narrator will be.”
James, 44, received his prize from the Duchess of Cornwall for his third novel.
Set across three decades, the novel uses the true story of the attempt on the life of reggae star, Marley, to explore the turbulent world of Jamaican gangs and politics.
Wood acknowledged that there was some “tough stuff” that might be too much for some readers.
“Someone said to me, they like to give Booker winners to their mother to read, but this might be a little difficult.”
This is the second year the Man Booker prize has been open to all authors writing in English, regardless of nationality.
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.
“It’s a visceral and uncompromising novel that sheds a stark light on a profoundly disturbing chapter of Jamaica’s history, but it’s also an ingeniously structured feat of storytelling that draws the reader in with its eye-catching use of language,” said Jonathan Ruppin, web editor at Foyles bookshops.
“For booksellers, it’s truly heartening to see such ambition and originality recognised and rewarded, and readers have already been embracing it with great enthusiasm.”