The story of reggae star Bob Marley’s attempted assassination has won the Man Booker Prize, one of the biggest literary prizes in English fiction.
Marlon James became the first Jamaican author to win the award for his 686-page epic A Brief History of Seven Killings.
Set in Kingston, Jamaica, it features more than 75 characters, including killers, ghosts, beauty queens and secret agents.
Michael Wood, the chair of the judges, described it as a crime novel “that moves beyond the world of crime and takes us deep into a recent history we know far too little about”.
“This book is startling in its range of voices and registers, running from the patois of the street posse to The Book of Revelation. It is a representation of political times and places, from the CIA intervention in Jamaica to the early years of crack gangs in New York and Miami,” he said.
The judges came to their unanimous decision in less than two hours.
James dedicated his win to his late father and to the reggae music he listened to as he grew up in Jamaica.
“The reggae singers Bob Marley and Peter Tosh were the first to recognize that the voice coming out our mouths was a legitimate voice for fiction and poetry,” he said.
Winners of the Man Booker Prize receive a £50,000 ($76,000) cash award and a trophy, as well as a huge injection of international recognition.
Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which won last year’s prize, sold nearly 800,000 copies after being named the winner.