A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James was named as the winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction in October. James is the first Jamaican author to win the prize in the Man Booker’s 47-year history. A fictional history of the attempted murder of Bob Marley in 1976, A Brief History of Seven Killings was “an extraordinary book”, said Michael Wood, the chair of judges. Wood, professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at Princeton, said it had quickly dawned on all the judges that James had to be the winner and there was no need for a vote.
James was awarded £50,000 for the prize. He dedicated his win to his late father with whom, he recalled, he used to have Shakespeare duels with as a boy. “Who can have the longest soliloquy … just imagine a father and son in a Jamaican rum bar.” James said it was the riskiest novel he had written, in terms of subject and form and it was “affirming” winning the prize. “I would have been happy with two people liking it.”
The other books shortlisted for the prize were Hanya Yanigahara’s A Little Life; Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island; Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways; Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen; and Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread. The Man Booker Prize promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year. The prize is the world’s most important literary award and has the power to transform the fortunes of authors and publishers. This is the second year the prize has been open to writers of any nationality writing in English.
read the review in this issue.