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A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon…
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A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014)

by Marlon James

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,829806,317 (3.89)315
"From the acclaimed writer of The Book of Night Women comes a masterful novel framed as a fictional oral history that explores the events and characters surrounding the attempted assassination of Bob Marley during the political turmoil on Jamaica in the late 1970s"--
  1. 10
    Born Fi' Dead: A Journey Through The Jamaican Posse Underworld by Laurie Gunst (brianjungwi)
  2. 00
    Caribbean by James A. Michener (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: A tolerably good overview of Caribbean history (including Jamaica), dressed as historical fiction.
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» See also 315 mentions

English (78)  Piratical (1)  French (1)  All languages (80)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
This novel has been lurking on my TBR pile for two years, and after a false start, I was absolutely determined to read the whole thing this time. Nope. I don't usually review books that I abandon, but after getting halfway through - and 375 pages would have been a suitable length, I feel - I've realised that the plot just isn't going to progress any further, and I can't stand another 300 pages of Jamaican patois (badly written, apparently), violence and arrogant American characters. I don't have a problem with the language or even the macho bullshit, but I do object to reading the same chapters again and again. My fault entirely, I should have known better to avoid the winner of the Man Booker Prize! Life is just too short, but I'm claiming the half I did get through for my annual tally anyway. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | May 25, 2020 |
Josey Wales is an ambitious gang leader with plans to take over the world. He is prepared to do anything to achieve this including taking over a rival gangs area and assassinating ‘The Singer’ a well known reggae superstar who is hoping to bring peace to his shattered country. The attempt fails, but Wales does manage to shatter the peace plans.

In this seventies Jamaica nothing is straightforward; the politicians are crooks, the gangs are made up of evil thoughtless killers, and the CIA is involved in meddling in the affairs of the country, supposedly to stop a communist takeover from Cuba. But mostly being ineffective. As Wales climbs the greasy pole, he gets into the drug trade and it makes him rich, very rich. So America beckons but he may yet be betrayed by the only thing that he cannot control; his temper.

This is a fictional account of the real events that took place in Jamaica in the 1970’s. ‘The Singer’, Bob Marley did survive an assassination attempt as he was preparing for a peace concert, and the gangs warfare was egged on by the political parties, spiralling out of control and ending up with a country where 600 murders happened in six months. James has tried to pull all this together to give us a story and it makes for grim unpalatable reading quite a lot of the time. Naturally he has got the patois off to a tee, and there is a storyline in there somewhere. It is full of pretty graphic violence between all the key characters and those unfortunate enough to come in range, with the CIA trying and failing to get a grip on the situation. Overall I didn’t feel that I got this book; I think that it was way too long and quite frequently felt tedious. If it was half the length it might have helped. There is a mass of characters in the book, some fairly distinct but a lot of the others seemed to blur into one mass of nastiness. Almost gave up, and almost gave it one star… ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Great: huge scope, great characters, very gritty, historically grounded, the glamor of the low lives. The characterizations are especially excellent when compared to the cardboard characters of most sci-fi.

Not so great: it is just tooo long, really. Most dialogues - the entire book is dialogue - could have been trimmed, and some entire dialogues removed. ( )
  GirlMeetsTractor | Mar 22, 2020 |
I can see why this book has received so much praise, and I enjoyed it, but it was difficult for me to follow it as an audiobook. The book jumps between many characters, events, times, and settings, and although the audiobook was narrated by multiple actors to help distinguish the different characters, it was still confusing at times. ( )
  tombrown | Feb 21, 2020 |
A wonderful doorstop of a novel that won the Man Booker price in 2015. It tells a story of gangs, drugs, Jamaica, New York and Bob Marley (though James only mentions him as "The Singer"). It starts in the 70's on Jamaica, where rival gangs battle for dominance and there's a plot to assassinate the Singer. It jumps a couple years to revisit the characters (and there are many) and how the aftermath affects them. Then we jump again to New York in the late 80's when cocaine was king and AIDs was on the rise.

Its a dense, story with lots of characters (that I only occassionally lost track of, good thing there's a Cast of Characters at the beginning). Some chapters were written in a Jamaican patiois that was both hard to read but very engaging. Perhaps the most interesting literary device that James used was the occassional "greek chorus" chapters where a dead politician from the 50's comes on to give perspective on the story so far. Excellent read, worth the time.

Quotes:
Preacher says there is a god-shaped void in everybody life but the only thing ghetto people can fill a void with is void.

Whamperer tastes just like a Whopper, minus the taste. Even the lettuce knows it can do better, so wet and bitter on this burger that I order every day for shits, just so I can tell my kids, You know what I had today? Poppa had a Whamperer, and they think their pop has a stammer.

Holy fucking horseshit, Diflorio, here's a fuckup that that makes a fuckup go holy fuck, now that's a fuckup. Jesus Christ, man, now does he do it?

If a man call himself Rasta today, by next week that is him speaking prophecy. He don't have to be too smart either, just know one or two hellfire and brimstone verse from the Bible. Or just claim it come from Leviticus since nobody ever read Leviticus. This is how you know. Nobody who get to the end of Leviticus can still take that book seriously. Even in a book full of it, that book is mad as shit.
9/10

S: 7/6/19 - 8/15/19 (41 Days) ( )
  mahsdad | Sep 10, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
If, like James, you’re from Jamaica, then recent history might suggest a gangster chronicle, and the central plot and metaphor of his novel is an intricate set of connections between the attempted assassination of the Singer and the rise and fall of a J.L.P.-connected crime boss called Josey Wales. The man who comes to kill the Singer, icon of peace, is a gangster whose export business is not reggae but cocaine. It doesn’t matter whether this hypothesis is factually verifiable. It isn’t. What matters is whether the story is persuasive and suggestive.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, ZACHARY LAZAR (Oct 23, 2014)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James, Marlonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anderson, RyanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bacquie, DwightNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boothe, CheriseNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dean, RobertsonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kulick, GreggCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McClain, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monton, RamonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rivera, ThomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walsh, SusanDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Younis, RobertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Gonna tell the truth about it,

Honey, that's the hardest part.

—Bonnie Raitt, "Tangled and Dark"

If it no go so, it go near so.

Jamaican proverb
Dedication
To Maurice James

An extraordinary gentleman in a league of his own.
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Listen.

Dead people never stop talking. Maybe because death is not death at all, just a detention after school.
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