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A Brief History of Seven Killings


Marlon James


Seven gunmen storm Bob Marley’s house, machine guns blazing. The reggae superstar survives, but the gunmen are never caught.

From the acclaimed author of The Book of Night Women comes a dazzling display of masterful storytelling exploring this near-mythic event. Spanning three decades and crossing continents, A Brief History of Seven Killings chronicles the lives of a host of unforgettable characters – slum kids, one-night stands, drug lords, girlfriends, gunmen, journalists, and even the CIA. Gripping and inventive, ambitious and mesmerising, A Brief History of Seven Killings is one of the most remarkable and extraordinary novels of the twenty-first century.

  • Publication date: October 16, 2014
  • ISBN: 9781780745879
  • RRP: £18.99
  • Pages: 688
  • Publication date: October 16, 2014
  • ISBN: 9781780745886
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 704



‘A nightmare symphony of crime that begins in 1970s Jamaica and never really leaves, even as the semi-historical plot leaves a surreal blood trail from a Bob Marley assassination attempt to crack-addled New York City. James’ intoxicating prose is relentless, feverishly up-close inside his characters’ rattled nerves even as the narrative scope widens into an evocative portrait of the author’s native Kingston’

Entertainment WeeklyDarren Franich

'Vast and vastly ambitious... much to admire... fascinating... the author's imaginative and stylistic range are impressive'

Sunday Times

'If the scope of James’s talent has grown from book to book, his imagination is more consistent – that tendency to inhabit the dark and gory places, and to shine a light on them… When reading reviews of Night Women, James apparently became bored with comparisons to Toni Morrison; and with A Brief History, he’s got bored with comparisons to Quentin Tarantino. But it is hard not to see the strength of that comparison. This is a novel that explores the aesthetics of cacophony and also the aesthetics of violence'


'It’s like a Tarantino remake of “The Harder They Come” but with a soundtrack by Bob Marley and a script by Oliver Stone and William Faulkner, with maybe a little creative boost from some primo ganja. It’s epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex. It’s also raw, dense, violent, scalding, darkly comic, exhilarating and exhausting — a testament to Mr. James’s vaulting ambition and prodigious talent.'

New York TimesMichiko Kakutani

‘[A Brief History of Seven Killings] is not only persuasive, but tragic, though in its polyphony and scope it’s more than that ... the book’s increasing sense of absurdity, its pop culture references, its compulsive ventriloquism and its range of tones – comic, surreal, nightmarish, parodic – began to remind me uncannily of David Foster Wallace’s all-or-nothing Infinite Jest.’

New York Times Book Review

‘Vast and teeming … a vivid novel that deserves all the praise it has received’ 

Sunday Telegraph

'Magnificent ... richly imagined... James has triumphed in capturing the tension, the politics, the heat, chaos, beauty and music of Jamaica'

Financial Times

‘Breaks new ground… a very fluid and superbly controlled work’


‘The hottest name in Caribbean literature right now’ 

GQ, best books of 2014

‘This seething, hot, violent, action-packed novel is enormous in every sense…the ambition is huge, but [James] pulls it off with huge style, confidence, imagination and wit... Extraordinary’

The Times

‘Epic, immersive, acutely observed and deeply moving, it’s worth every long hour it demands of the reader ... James’ meticulous characterization makes his writing exceptionally vivid and compelling ... James’ long, sprawling, masterfully woven together novel finds its redemption in the indomitability of the human will to live, and its light in a sly, sardonic humor that finds its way in amongst the horrific violence and grinding, Sisyphean cycle of misery. Though it by no means makes for a brief read, or an easy one, it’s a brilliant, heartbreaking and searing one that will burrow its way deep into the reader’s soul.’

Huffington Post

‘An excellent new work of historical fiction … part crime thriller, part oral history, part stream-of-consciousness monologue.’

Rolling Stone

Marlon James

Marlon James was born in Jamaica. He is the author of John Crow’s Devil (Oneworld, 2015), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, and The Book of Night Women (Oneworld, 2009), which won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Minnesota Book Award and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction. His third novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld 2014), won the Man Booker Prize in 2015, the American Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Fiction Prize, and was a finalist for the International Dublin Literary Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Esquire and Granta. He is currently the Writer-in-Residence and Associate Professor of English at Macalester College, Minnesota, USA.

Author page

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