Book Nook: A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James
During the mid 1970's things were really heating up on the island of Jamaica. It had become chaotic. Violence was breaking out. Two political parties were wrestling for control of the government in a hotly contested election. The reggae star Bob Marley wanted to try to calm things down. He decided to do a concert in the hope of easing some of the tension.
Right before the concert a group of armed thugs, men and boys, showed up at Marley's house. A cascade of gunfire erupted. Marley and several others had been shot. Amazingly, nobody died. Marley went on to perform at the concert but shortly thereafter he left the island and kept away from it for almost all of the rest of his brief life.
This incident took place when the writer Marlon James was just a young boy living on the island. It has been on his mind ever since. His latest novel "A Brief History of Seven Killings" is a fictional account based on many of the actual events that occurred. There's an assassination attempt and the music star known as "the Singer" is attacked by this posse of men and boys. The title of the book refers to the fates of the perpetrators; for many of them, their lives were very short indeed.
The story is told from the viewpoints of numerous characters. It is long. It is dense. It is hypnotic. This was one of my favorite books from the past year. It has just been named as one of the five finalists for the prestigious National Book Critics' Circle Award for fiction. In this interview the author talks about his creative process and why he'll always feel an affectionate connection with Dayton, Ohio.