Synopses & Reviews
One of the Top 10 Books of 2014 Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book
Named a best book of the year by:
The New York Times
The Washington Post
The Boston Globe
The Huffington Post
The Seattle Times
The Houston Chronicle
Kansas City Star
From the acclaimed author of The Book of Night Women comes a musical, electric, fantastically profane” (The New York Times) epic that explores the tumultuous world of Jamaica over the past three decades.
In A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James combines brilliant storytelling with his unrivaled skills of characterization and meticulous eye for detail to forge an enthralling novel of dazzling ambition and scope.
On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions in Kingston, seven gunmen stormed the singers house, machine guns blazing. The attack wounded Marley, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Little was officially released about the gunmen, but much has been whispered, gossiped and sung about in the streets of West Kingston. Rumors abound regarding the assassins fates, and there are suspicions that the attack was politically motivated.
A Brief History of Seven Killings delves deep into that dangerous and unstable time in Jamaicas history and beyond. James deftly chronicles the lives of a host of unforgettable characters gunmen, drug dealers, one-night stands, CIA agents, even ghosts over the course of thirty years as they roam the streets of 1970s Kingston, dominate the crack houses of 1980s New York, and ultimately reemerge into the radically altered Jamaica of the 1990s. Along the way, they learn that evil does indeed cast long shadows, that justice and retribution are inextricably linked, and that no one can truly escape his fate.
Gripping and inventive, shocking and irresistible, A Brief History of Seven Killings is a mesmerizing modern classic of power, mystery, and insight.
"Writing in the spirit of Toni Morrison and Alice Walker but in a style all his own, James has conducted an experiment in how to write the unspeakable even the unthinkable. And the results of that experiment are an undeniable success." New York Times
"[H]ard to pick up, even harder to put down." Chicago Tribune
"Marlon James's writing brings to mind early Toni Morrison, Jessica Hagedorn, and Gabriel Garcia MArquez." Kaylie Jones, author of A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries
"Pile them up, a Marlon James character says repeatedly, and Marlon does just that. Pile them up: language, imagery, technique, imagination. All fresh, all exciting." Chris Abani, author of The Virgin of Flames and GraceLand
"Marlon James has written an exquisite, haunting and beautiful novel, impossible to resist. Like the best of literature, The Book of Night Women deserves to be passed down hand to hand, generation to generation." Dinaw Mengestu, author of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears
"The Book of Night Women is a slave narrative, a story of rebellion, and a testament to the human heart in conflict with itself. It is a book of rip and rhythm. Of violence and tenderness. Of the healing glance in all the hatred. It reads like Faulkner in another skin. It is a brave book. And like the best, and most dangerous, of stories, it seems as if it was just waiting to be told." Colum McCann, author of Zoli and Dance
"Despite the seriousness of the subject, a lot of that fun rubs off on the reader, too. Evaristo works very close to farce, but none of what she does ever seems nonsensical." San Francisco Chronicle
From a young writer who radiates charisma and talent comes a sweeping, stylish historical novel of Jamaican slavery that can be compared only to Toni Morrison's Beloved.
From a young writer who radiates charisma and talent comes a sweeping, stylish historical novel of Jamaican slavery that can be compared only to Toni Morrison's Beloved
, The Book of Night Women
is a sweeping, startling novel, a true tour de force of both voice and storytelling. It is the story of Lilith, born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the eighteenth century. Even at her birth, the slave women around her recognize a dark power that they and she will come to both revere and fear.
The Night Women, as they call themselves, have long been plotting a slave revolt, and as Lilith comes of age and reveals the extent of her power, they see her as the key to their plans. But when she begins to understand her own feelings and desires and identity, Lilith starts to push at the edges of what is imaginable for the life of a slave woman in Jamaica, and risks becoming the conspiracy's weak link.
Lilith's story overflows with high drama and heartbreak, and life on the plantation is rife with dangerous secrets, unspoken jealousies, inhuman violence, and very human emotion between slave and master, between slave and overseer, and among the slaves themselves. Lilith finds herself at the heart of it all. And all of it told in one of the boldest literary voices to grace the page recently and the secret of that voice is one of the book's most intriguing mysteries.
"An undeniable success.” The New York Times Book Review
A true triumph of voice and storytelling, The Book of Night Women rings with both profound authenticity and a distinctly contemporary energy. It is the story of Lilith, born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the eighteenth century. Even at her birth, the slave women around her recognize a dark power that they- and she-will come to both revere and fear. The Night Women, as they call themselves, have long been plotting a slave revolt, and as Lilith comes of age they see her as the key to their plans. But when she begins to understand her own feelings, desires, and identity, Lilith starts to push at the edges of what is imaginable for the life of a slave woman, and risks becoming the conspiracy's weak link. But the real revelation of the book-the secret to the stirring imagery and insistent prose-is Marlon James himself, a young writer at once breathtakingly daring and wholly in command of his craft.
Epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex. Its also raw, dense, violent, scalding, darkly comic, exhilarating and exhausting a testament to Mr. Jamess vaulting ambition and prodigious talent.”The New York Times
From the acclaimed author of The Book of Night Women comes one of the years most anticipated novels, a lyrical, masterfully written epic that explores the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the late 1970s.
On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.
Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of charactersassassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghostsA Brief History of Seven Killings is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the 70s, to the crack wars in 80s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the 90s. Brilliantly inventive and stunningly ambitious, this novel is a revealing modern epic that will secure Marlon James place among the great literary talents of his generation.
About the Author
Marlon James was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1970. He graduated from the University of the West Indies in 1991 with a degree in literature. His first novel, John Crow's Devil, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. James lives in Kingston.