Marlon James achieved international fame after he became the first Jamaican author to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize for Fiction. James, who currently is a professor in the United States, won the award for his 2014 book, “A Brief History of Seven Killings.”
James was born in 1970 to police officer parents, who worked to combat the high levels of crime, political corruption and gang warfare that ravaged the island nation in the ’70’s. In a recent interview, James remarked that the Prime Minister of that era was so exasperated by the situation that he announced to citizens they should flee to Miami, Fla.
James’ book is based around the 1976 assassination attempt against reggae legend, Bob Marley. Marley and other bands joined forces to organize a concert for peace in December of that year. Two days ahead of the concert, gunmen stormed Marley’s house and shot almost everyone inside. All the shooting victims survived the assault.
James doesn’t mention Marley by name in the book, but instead refers to him as “The Singer.” The book’s plot centers on seven of the would-be assassins and other key figures, such as CIA agents and a music reporter. James’ win has been especially celebrated among Jamaica’s top and rising authors, as it’s brought recognition to a nation rich with literary talents of all levels.
James has authored three books thus far, “The Book of Night Women” and “John Crow’s Devil” both released in 2010, along with “A Brief History of Seven Killings.”
James is the professor of Literature at Macalester University in St. Paul, Minn. An openly gay man, James’ win has also been a point of triumph for the LBGTQ community as well.
The Booker Prize was only given to natives of Britain, Ireland, Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth Nations up until 2014.
In the literary world, the prize is a highly prestigious recognition for authors.