Man Booker Prize Winner 2015

On Tuesday 13 October the Man Booker Prize for 2015 was announced.

This years winner was 44-year-old Marlon James from Jamaica (now living in Minneapolis, USA). He is the first writer from Jamaica to win the prize in its 47 year history.

His book A Brief History of Seven Killings is a fictional history, an imagined biography of the singer Bob Marley, and the events surrounding an attempted assassination in 1976. Crediting Charles Dickens as one of his former influences, here in his 686 page epic, James pulls together a band of characters:

from witnesses and FBI and CIA agents to killers, ghosts, beauty queens and Keith Richards’ drug dealer – to create a rich, polyphonic study of violence, politics and the musical legacy of Kingston of the 1970s

Michael Wood, Chair of the judges, commented:

‘This book is startling in its range of voices and registers, running from the patois of the street posse to The Book of Revelation. It is a representation of political times and places, from the CIA intervention in Jamaica to the early years of crack gangs in New York and Miami.

‘It is a crime novel that moves beyond the world of crime and takes us deep into a recent history we know far too little about. It moves at a terrific pace and will come to be seen as a classic of our times.’

It sounds like a riveting pageturner, with its cast of over 75 characters and voices. I haven’t read the book, but I’ve requested my local library buy it. Here is what a few reviewers have had to say:

Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times – Booker winner Marlon James tops Tarantino for body count

Reading Marlon’s prose is akin to injecting liquid fire into your brain.

Kei Miller, The Guardian – bloody conflicts in 70s Jamaica

tendency to inhabit the dark and gory places, and to shine a light on them

Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times – Jamaica via a Sea of Voices

raw, dense, violent, scalding, darkly comic, exhilarating and exhausting

Have you read it yet? Or planning to?


18 thoughts on “Man Booker Prize Winner 2015

    • Good pont Marina, it’s great to see different genres busting onto the book prize shortlists. This one sounds like it includes a bit of historical fiction too. I wonder how soon this will be made into a feature film, it certainly has great potential.


  1. I gather that much of the book is in Jamaican patois – and it was refused by over 70 publishers before finally being accepted! Encouraging for all those would-be authors in a similar position! Sounds like something for the long winter evenings, and a Jamaican dictionary at hand!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, James mentions in interviews that it was his first book, John Crow’s Devil, that had been rejected so many times. I must’ve read the same articles you’d read that talk about that and I got confused as well, until I did some digging. Either way, very glad James won. Very well deserved. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this book and really wanted it to win (I even called it when the short-list was announced and blogged about how worried I was that my enthusiasm would jinx it because I’m always wrong when it comes to guessing winners). Completely deserved and one of my books of 2015!


  3. Nice to know that Marlon James is the first Jamaican author to win the Booker. It is so wonderful. I am a bit disappointed though – I was hoping that Hanya Yanagihara’s ‘A Little Life’ would win. I am reading it now and it is a chunkster, but it is wonderful – every page is a delight. I haven’t read a book like this in a long, long time – I want to linger on every page, every line and read my favourite passages again and again before turning the page. I don’t know how long it will take to finish it, but I am enjoying it. I hope it wins a prize sometime – any prize. Otherwise, because of its size, it might be forgotten a few months from now. It is a book which deserves to be read by a wider readership. Having said that, Congratulations to Marlon James 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James #ManBookerPrize – Word by Word

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