LargeUp Interview: Marlon James on “A Brief History of Seven Killings”


Words by Sherman Escoffery/Photos by Martei Korley

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Large Up recently spoke with the author Marlon James, whose third novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, follows the lives and deaths of seven of the would-be killers in the failed 1976 assassination attempt on Bob Marley. Set within one of Jamaica’s most turbulent eras, the book also follows the lives of several other people who are players and pawns in the Cold War into the U.S.’ “War On Drugs,” of the 1980s. Spanning nearly three decades and far more than seven killings, James weaves fiction into facts with this brilliant work described as “monumental” by the New York Times, telling the story he wants to tell without fear or apologies to anyone.

Here, the Jamaican-born novelist (he currently resides in Minnesota, and was photographed during a recent visit to NYC) discusses writing in patois, the role of duppies in his work, how he created A Brief History‘s 60-plus characters, and why country singer Marty Robbins’ Gunfighter Ballads is the Genesis of the rude-boy and shotta archetype so prevalent in Jamaican culture.

Click to read the interview.