In the literary world, it may be said that Marlon James’ name is synonymous with Bob Marley. Also, the toils and troubles of Jamaican political dispute and the empowering embrace of homosexuality.
His novel, ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’, won the Man Booker Prize in 2015. This made Marlon James the first Jamaican writer to win the UK’s most prestigious literary award.
The turbulent atmosphere created by the political tensions of the mid 1970s formed the backdrop for his acclaimed novel. Due to that success it is set to be transformed into a brand-new HBO series.
Marlon was born in the small town of Portmore in Jamaica to two police officers. He struggled to come to terms with his homosexuality in a country that still prosecuted citizens for this practise.
The move to America is something James credits to have ‘saved him’. In Jamaica, he was “so convinced that [his] voice outed him […] that [he] stopped speaking to people [he] didn’t know”.
It is not only ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ that earned him an esteemed title and reputation. At the age of 34, his third novel, ‘John Crow’s Devil’ led to a teaching job. James taught creative writing at Macalester College in Minnesota. Marlon still lives there today.
With James’ Man Booker Prize win in 2015. African American writer, Paul Beatty’s, victory for this year’s Man Booker award 2016. Are we finally seeing the dawn of diversity in literature?