Friday, August 19, 2016

Amazon Book Reviews: Caribbean Authors — Marlon James

Marlon James (born 1970) is a Jamaican novelist. He has published three novels: The Book of Night Women (2009), John Crow's Devil (2010) and A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014), winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize ... James is a 1991 graduate of the University of the West Indies where he read Language and Literature. He received a master's degree in creative writing from Wilkes University (2006). James has taught English and creative writing at Macalester College since 2007. His first novel, The Book of Night Women, is about a slave woman's revolt in a Jamaican plantation in the early 19th century. James's second novel, John Crow's Devil, tells the story of a biblical struggle in a remote Jamaican village in 1957. His most recent novel, 2014's A Brief History of Seven Killings, explores several decades of Jamaican history and political instability through the perspectives of many narrators. It won the fiction category of the 2015 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.  Read more:   Related articles:,, and

This is a review for A Brief History of Seven Killings: A Novel by Marlon James - Jamaica is a mother who eats her children. If there’s a message to this rich, complicated, wholly satisfying novel, that’s it. Everyone preys on the poor in Kingston, Jamaica, and the only way out is to prey on others. That’s what almost all the characters in this vast, sprawling saga do –they savage their neighbors for their own gain and then they too fall before other more savage, or merely younger, predators. Life is short, harsh, and violent in Kingston. No one leaves the game unmarked. “In the ghetto there is no such thing as peace. There is only this fact. Your power to kill me can only be stop by my power to kill you .... Who want peace anyway when all that mean is that you still poor?.” Crime and politics are pretty much the same game in Kingston. The novel starts before the 1976 election campaign. The island’s biggest celebrity, Bob Marley, or “the Singer” as he’s referred to throughout the novel, has returned to headline a big Peace Concert. Everyone’s there. Mick Jagger and the Stones –Mick out hunting for black poon. A freelancer for Rolling Stone. (He’s one of the narrators.) Everyone. Some of them want the Singer dead. They almost succeed. (This is historically accurate. There was an almost successful attempt to assassinate Marley before the concert in 1976.) Afterward, there’s a bloodbath scourging of the ranks of the conspirators so that the little fish can’t spill the beans on the bigger ones. The description of what happens is savage, visceral, jolting. There’s no room for gratitude or kindness in a world this poor, especially when the stakes are high.   Read more:

This is a review for The Book of Night Women by Marlon James - I've waited two weeks after reading this book before I decided to write a review. I waited so long partly because I needed time to process what I had read and partly because the characters kept haunting me. The imagery of this book is so expertly written that at times I found myself mentally gasping for air. I could literally smell the "mint and lemongrass" of Homer and I could feel the physical and mental pain associated with purposely stifling rage and fury as a means of survival. I felt anger and symphathy for lilith simultaneously and I winced in empathethic pain as the characters were beaten, whipped, tortured and brutalized. The chapter describing the construction of the gibbet, the housing and subsequent hoisting of the men and women into the trees is what prompted the title of this review (I hope this sentence piques your interest into purchasing the book to find out what a gibbet is and why it was pivotal to my description).   Read more:

This is a review for John Crow's Devil by Marlon James - If you are Jamaican, you will love this book, if you're not, this is a really good introduction to Jamaica. Though the story is fictional the characters are everywhere in this island. From the Pastor to the Apostle to Backra to the Obeyah woman, the characters were so well developed in the book that as a Jamaican I laughed at all the connections to real people I could make. All the little things that are authentically Jamaican will seem so true to one from the island, like the fact that a pastor is seen as a higher authority than everyone else and that he really can rule the place. As I read this book, I had those moments where I giggled to myself and moments where I laughed till tears came out of my eyes. Then there were the moments where I was just holding my breath and moments where I got truly vexed. For that, I enjoyed John Crow's Devil. What made me really love it though, is that it uses Proper English spelling with Patois grammer which made it an easy flow in my Jamaican brain but for those who don't speak Patois, you will understand it just as well. That little tiny thing, for me just says, as much as I know that non-Jamaicans will be reading it, I'm not abandoning home. Much Ratings on this project. I am just waiting to read the next one.   Read more:

Marlon James on his Booker Prize win - video by Channel 4 News

Marlon James "A Brief History of Seven Killings" 
- video by Politics and Prose

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