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A Brief History of Seven Killings by [James, Marlon]
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A Brief History of Seven Killings Kindle Edition

2.6 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Length: 704 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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WINNER MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2015

On 3 December 1976, just weeks before the general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions, seven gunmen from West Kingston stormed his house with machine guns blazing. Marley survived and went on to perform at the free concert, but the next day he left the country, and didn’t return for two years. Not a lot was recorded about the fate of the seven gunmen, but much has been said, whispered and sung about in the streets of West Kingston, with information surfacing at odd times, only to sink into rumour and misinformation.

Inspired by this near-mythic event, A Brief History of Seven Killings takes the form of an imagined oral biography, told by ghosts, witnesses, killers, members of parliament, drug dealers, conmen, beauty queens, FBI and CIA agents, reporters, journalists, and even Keith Richards' drug dealer. Marlon James’s bold undertaking traverses strange landscapes and shady characters, as motivations are examined — and questions asked — in this compelling novel of monumental scope and ambition.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2338 KB
  • Print Length: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (14 October 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00KRGNR7K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #5,777 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
A Brief History of Seven Killings is not brief. Nor, strictly speaking, does the death toll end up at seven.

Set in Jamaica (mostly – there are a couple of offshoots to Miami and New York), spanning the time frame 1976-1991, and featuring multiple stream of consciousness narrators, this is a complex novel. It interweaves drug gangs and politics; it blurs the lines between life and death (at least one of the narrators is a ghost); and the timelines are far from sequential.

To further add to the confusion, many of the characters narrate in a bombor’asscloth patois peppered with expletives, short on verbs and generally not focused on illuminating the reader. At first there’s a temptation to try to keep on top of events, but it is a fool’s errand and it’s best to just acquiesce, read it through and let the words wash over you. Some of it will make sense and some of it won’t. Perhaps the reader is meant to be viewing the world through a ganja haze – maybe through a cocaine hight or a heroin hit. This all adds to the atmosphere, but it does make for a mightily long and sometimes repetitive story.

The story, such as it is, focuses on an attempt to assassinate Bob Marley (known as The Singer) when he made a tentative foray into Jamaican politics in 1976. The rationale behind the hit is never fully clear; the circumstances emerge only slowly; and the aftermath pans out over 15 years. This suggests a political thriller, and there is some early involvement of CIA characters, but really it is more about gangs and sleaze. Politics in Jamaica is shown as just an extension of gang turf wars with political office being either the laurels for achievement on the international stage; or the spoils obtained by being the biggest baddie in town.
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Brief it isn't. Long on Jamaica, its politics, its personalities, or lookalikes ( I guess?) and the local argot - Man! - and that's the most engaging part.
Then, there's the drug trade up to New York with thugs of all shapes and the CIA thrown in with others in a comic strip confusion of bullets, blood, shoot ups of a different sort and sex of most sorts, in a jarring jangle of profanities, sometimes in UPPER CASE. Incidents are loosely tied together and the denouement -if that's what it is- < I want to go back to Jamaica, Man >, is a sentiment dear to the hearts of Booker judges. The acknowledgements given to the number of people who assisted the author in putting this project together brings to mind the sentiment that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. This committee meeting takes some sitting through. You may not think that patience is a virtue in this case.
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Gives a perspective on a slice of time on Jamaican history, the politics around the time of Bob Marley's rise to fame in the West. Long complex train-of-thought passages of many characters get a bit tedious.
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By don22754 TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 February 2015
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I did enjoy it, but must admit that it was too long-winded. And it took me a lot of effort. The dialect initially stumped me, 'tho it did make for a good sense of Jamaican culture.
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I had to stop reading it - only the second book I have not read to the end. The first was an awful book called Aspen about 40 years ago. I bought it because the author sounded great on radio. I thought I would enjoy the Jamaican dialect but no. I have no idea what it was all about or where he was going with it.
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It's not often I shout at a book when I'm reading it. I would normally just stop reading. But although it was ugly and violent and disheartening I finished it. Shouting occasionally. Oh NO! Just stop writing! Jeez, not WEEPER again! and so on. Having said that, it was good in parts. I learned a lot about certain events which took place in Jamaica.
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This won the Man Booker!!! I must be a simpleton as I read about 5% of the book before I kept falling asleep from the sheer boredom of it all. It is obviously style over substance/story. Glad I got it on sale. One of those books that the critics all fawn over for reasons unknown. Give it a miss as there are thousands of other books out that have never won a Man Booker that are a much better read.
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Some interesting literary devices were used to immerse you as a reader in the political warfare of Jamaican during this period which I found Interesting. However, it was just dragged on and was too hard to read in the end. Didn't finish the book. It got boring and too hard to follow!
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