LONDON: Marlon James has 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. James is 44-years-old and is a resident of Minneapolis.
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 plot which has over 75 characters and voices edged past The Year of the Runaways by UK-based Indian origin writer Sunjeev Sahota to bag the world’s most prestigious literary prize for fiction worth £50,000.
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 was competing with Tom McCarthy who was the only shortlisted author to have been nominated before. A Brief History of Seven Killings’ is set in Kingston, where James was born. It was inspired by the real-life attempted murder of Bob Marley. James has credited Charles Dickens as one of his influences, saying ‘I still consider myself a Dickensian, I still believe in—plot, surprise, cliff hangers.