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Book Review: A Brief History of Seven Killings

Jamaica, a country which we didn’t know much about, but then books like A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James tells you a lot about Jamaica and a time when it was bound to turn into a river of blood. Winner of Man’s Booker Prize 2015, A Brief History of Seven Killings is pretty hefty and a lengthy one, but definitely passes for a must read.

A Brief History of Seven killings starts from the year 1976 with an attempted murder of Bob Marley. The story is almost true, supported with facts that Marley was shot two days before Smile Jamaica concert which was organized by Michael Manley, then Prime Minister and leader of People’s National Party (PNP). Marley played in the concert but then left soon for London after a self-imposed exile. The gunmen are believed to have come from ghettos run by gangs, known as the West Kingston Garrison under the protection of influential politicians and small time political parties. The seven assassins were never tried in the court of law. But James Marlon created a powerful story out of it. He carried all the assassins towards 1990’s, and through their eyes made us see the real Jamaica of 70’s, full of civil unrest, war and corrupt economy and death of intellectuals.

A Brief History of Seven Killings is a book which will keep you busy. There are would-be assassins, various gang bosses, CIA officers, Media and a politician’s ghosts. Even Bob Marley is being referred as ”The Singer” in the book. Overall, the book is pretty great, but a little dizzying. Each chapter has been defined by a specific character which has a span of over 100-150 pages. The structure of the story is dispersed. And after Kingston’s chapter, you might want to take a break from the book. But even after a confusing narration, we would still recommend you to read this book. Once you dive into the story and get a little hang of it, you will want to continue reading it till the end.

My favorite character turned out to Nina Burgess which is a fictional character only. She is the voice that narrates you the attempted assassination of Marley at his home, the one who keeps changing her identity. Nina’s story is a little off track from the main story, but although a more important and interesting one. The Singer portrayed as Bob Marley has also been given a fresh and different look in this book, otherwise we only remember him as a singer who gave smoking a pot a whole new meaning.

Overall, the book is a good read. But honestly, it is not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s heavy and full of facts which can only be registered in a heavy readers mind. People who are looking for a story would be a little disappointed as facts have trumped the story line in The Brief History of Seven Killings. We still recommend the book to everyone as it is one powerful imaginative description which you will definitely love.

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