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Man Booker win for epic novel on reggae star Bob Marley

By Helen William

Published 14/10/2015

Marley and me: Marlon James
Marley and me: Marlon James
Subject Bob Marley
Presenter: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, arrives at the Guildhall

An epic re-telling of the attempted assassination of reggae superstar Bob Marley has won the Man Booker Prize.

A Brief History Of Seven Killings sees author Marlon James (44), become the first Jamaican to win the coveted literary prize in its 47-year history.

The 686-page story covers the attempted murder of the reggae singer in 1976 and the rise of the drug trade on the island.

It is set in Kingston, Jamaica, and has over 75 characters, voices and witnesses, from FBI and CIA agents to killers, ghosts, beauty queens and Keith Richards' drug dealer.

The judges unanimously picked the book as the winner after "more than one but less than two hours of deliberation," according to Michael Wood, chairman of the judging panel.

The book is loaded with Jamaican patois, bad language and a testing subject matter, but Mr Wood urged people to read it, even though he might not give it to his own mother to read.

He said: "I think there is a kind of excitement right from the beginning. I think (James) has thought 'I am not trying to rub people's noses in difficult terms, I am trying to get them to think about things that are out there'.

"'I am going to give them ways in and I am going to give them voices they can listen to'. A lot of it is very, very funny and a lot of it is very human.

"It is not an easy read. It is a big book. There is some tough stuff and there is a lot of swearing but it is not a difficult book to approach. It is not a difficult book to get into."

The New York Times described the book as "like a Tarantino remake of The Harder They Come but with a soundtrack by Bob Marley and a script by Oliver Stone and William Faulkner... epic in every sense of that word".

James was born in Kingston, Jamaica and currently lives in Minneapolis. It's his third novel.

James refers to Marley as The Singer throughout.

James was presented with a trophy by the Duchess of Cornwall at a glittering ceremony at the Guildhall in central London.

He also received the £50,000 cheque, gets a designer bound edition of his book and a further £2,500 for being shortlisted.

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