Jamaican novelist Marlon James has won this year’s Man Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings, a novel inspired by the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the 1970s.
Michael Wood, chair of the judges, described the 680-page epic was “full of surprises” as well as being “very violent” and “full of swearing”.
Marlon James, 44, was announced as the winner of the £50,000 ($80,000) prize in London on Tuesday, October 13.
He is the first Jamaican author to win the Man Booker Prize.
Receiving the award, Marlon James said a huge part of the novel had been inspired by reggae music: “The reggae singers Bob Marley and Peter Tosh were the first to recognize that the voice coming out our mouths was a legitimate voice for fiction and poetry.”
Marlon James was presented with his prize by Camilla Bowles.
The author admitted it was “so surreal” to win and dedicated the award to his late father who had shaped his “literary sensibilities”.
Set across three decades, the novel uses the true story of the attempt on the life of Bob Marley to explore the turbulent world of Jamaican gangs and politics.
In his novel’s acknowledgements, Marlon James himself thanks his family but adds: “This time around maybe my mother should stay away from part four of the book.”
This is the second year the Man Booker prize has been open to all authors writing in English, regardless of nationality.
Marlon James, who currently lives in Minneapolis, can expect a dramatic boost in sales following his win. After A Brief History of Seven Killings was named on the Booker shortlist last month sales tripled to more than 1,000 copies a week, according to Nielsen Book Research.
2015 Man Booker Prize shortlist:
- Marlon James (Jamaica), A Brief History of Seven Killings
- Tom McCarthy (UK), Satin Island
- Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), The Fishermen
- Sunjeev Sahota (UK), The Year of the Runaways
- Anne Tyler (US), A Spool of Blue Thread
- Hanya Yanagihara (US), A Little Life