Around the beginning of this year I came across a book in my mom’s library, A Brief History of Seven Killings. Days later, I saw a New York Times review celebrating this young Jamaican author that is praised as part of the renaissance of Jamaican literature. I excitedly delved into this fictionalized take on very real historical events. Conspiracy theorists and lovers of all things Bob Marley, this is the book for you; it’s about the assassination attempt on Marley in the 1970s. From the very real Jamaican political party feuds to the CIA’s involvement in wars and violence in the West Indies and Latin American, there were points in the novel when I turned the pages furiously hungry to read more. Jamaica to Miami to New York in the 80s and 90s the links are all there and it’s extremely fascinating, and, warning, extremely violent. Jamaica is beautiful and as tourists it’s easy to idealize this island paradise but something that always stuck with me is my grandmother had no desire to go back to Jamaica. She’d rather spend her retirement in cold New York; she came to the US in the early 1970s. In Jamaica, it can go left pretty quickly and this novel highlights that.
Clearly I was not the only one that enjoyed A Brief History of Seven Killings. Recently, author Marlon James won the Booker Prize, an award that hasn’t been given to a Caribbean writer since 1971. The Booker Prize is one of the highest awards in fiction.
** Marley is never named in the book. The character is absolutely Marley BUT there was one mistake in my copy that I yelped with excitement at seeing. At one point, another character speaking calls him Marley!