Marlon James

Marlon James is an internationally acclaimed Jamaican novelist. He is best known for his 2015 Man Booker Prize winning novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014). He has published several other novels and has received many prizes, including the Dayton Literary Peace Prize (2010) and has appeared on numerous prestigious shortlists. He has also maintained a strong link to Jamaica and the Caribbean through presentations, workshops, residencies, distinguished lectures, literary festival appearances, and book launches.

Notable are his presentations addressing topics related to writing and the writing process, issues pertaining to the history of the Caribbean, race and gender in the US and UK, and youth subcultures as expressed in literature and music such as hip-hop. He has led creative writing workshops at the Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad and the Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica.

James’ first novel, John Crow’s Devil (2005), tells the story of a biblical struggle in a remote Jamaican village in the 1950s and, though rejected 78 times before being accepted for publication, John Crow’s Devil went on to become a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, as well as a New York Times Editor’s Choice. His second novel, The Book of Night Women (2009), is about a slave women’s revolt on a Jamaican plantation in the early 19th century. The work won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the (US) 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction, as well as a National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) Image Award.

James’ short fiction and nonfiction have been anthologized in Bronx Noir, The Book of Men: Eighty Writers on How to Be a Man and elsewhere, and have appeared in Esquire, Granta, Harper’s, The Caribbean Review of Books and other publications. His widely read essay, “From Jamaica to Minnesota to Myself,” which appeared in the New York Times Magazine (2015), was a public announcement of his status as a gay man.

Winning the Man Booker Prize made him the first Jamaican author to take home the UK’s most prestigious literary award. Writing for The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani said of the novel: “It is 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.”

In addition to the Man Booker Prize, A Brief History of Seven Killings won the American Book Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the (US) National Book Critics Circle Award, and was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2019.