'A Brief History of Seven Killings' by Marlon James


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I’ve never read anything like this novel before; not a novel written almost entirely in patois, or a novel with such sharp and unexpected twists to the plot. It was certainly a great introduction to James for me. A Brief History of Seven Killings starts in 1976, with the retelling of the true-life attempt on Bob Marley’s life (who is called 'The Singer' the entire novel). It ends in 1991, with retribution on the man who shot The Singer. And in between, we live vicariously through the lives of numerous characters -- the ghost of Sir Arthur Jennings, Bam-Bam, Nina Burgess, Josey Wales, Papa-Lo, Barry Diflorio etc -- as they narrate the gruesome tales of murder, death, of life in Kingston’s ghettos, of trying to get as far away from Jamaica as possible, of 'the shitstem' that is politics, or ‘Babylon’, of the extent America went in trying to curb communism in Cuba, of dangerous Jamaican and Colombian drug cartels, of merciless assassins, and much more. The book had a lot of violent and sexually graphic content. It was also an educative read through which I learnt about Jamaica and America's 'foreign policies'. It’s a 7 out of 10 for me.

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