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A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014)

by Marlon James

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,105925,641 (3.9)329
"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 329 mentions

English (91)  Piratical (1)  French (1)  All languages (93)
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
A Brief History of Seven Killings
By Marlon James
2014, Riverhead Books
Hardcover, 688pp

"Dead. It sounds final but it's a word with an ing."

At once devastating memoir of a Jamaica enmeshed in political chaos, rampant drug use, and brutal violence; and lyrical masterclass in vernacular writing. Voices beg us to listen to their story, and the cacophony of first-person perspectives weave a complex narrative of the attempted murder of Bob Marley in 1976 and its aftermath. The innovative and engaging narrative, however, tended to wear out its welcome by the last 200pp. (For one thing, there was not a single character about whom I cared.) Nonetheless, dare I call this ambitious work Jamaica's As I Lay Dying? Instead of Southern Gothic, however, we get Jamdown patwah. I recommend keeping http://jamaicanpatwah.com/ handy. ( )
  chrisvia | Apr 29, 2021 |
Story around an attempt to assasinate Bob Marley. Told in Carribean slang. Difficult to follow, repetitive and in the end I gave up on it. Yet another example of the Booker Prize being awarded to a book that is unusual rather than having merit. ( )
  Neilw59 | Apr 23, 2021 |
I really liked the book, but it is a lot of work. The internet was my friend. I found references for patois and history, and even a book guide. I intend to read it again and I expect a second reading will result in 5 stars. ( )
  A2Seamster | Apr 9, 2021 |
4.5 stars. The actual crime-politics overarching story of this is fairly impenetrable to me; however, James's rotating cast of narrators is extremely rich and vivid to the point where that often fades into the background. Looking forward to reading more. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
Read in parallel with lots of other books as it's quite long compared to what I usually read. Really enjoyable and distinct every time I came back to it. ( )
  mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 91 (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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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
To Maurice James

An extraordinary gentleman in a league of his own.
First words

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

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