Jamaican author Marlon James has won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for his novel inspired by the attempted assassination of reggae musician Bob Marley in the 1970s.
Michael Wood, chair of the judges panel, described A Brief History of Seven Killings as the “most exciting” book on the shortlist and a novel full of the “sheer pleasure” of language.
He said the 680-page epic was “full of surprises” as well as being “very violent” and “full of swearing.”
James was awarded the $77,000 prize Tuesday night at London’s Guildhall. A Brief History of Seven Killings is the third novel from the writer, who now lives in the northern U.S. city of Minneapolis.
James beat five other authors, including two Americans: Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Tyler, for the multi-generational family saga A Spool of Blue Thread, and Hawaiian writer Hanya Yanagihara for A Little Life, the story of four male friends, one of whom is a survivor of horrific child abuse.
The other finalists were British writer Sunjeev Sahota’s immigrants’ story, The Year of the Runaways; the fratricide fable The Fishermen, by Nigeria’s Chigozie Obioma; and British writer Tom McCarthy’s digital drama Satin Island.
This is the second year the prize has been open to English-language writers of all nationalities. It had previously been restricted to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth of former British colonies.