A Brief History of Seven Killings

A Brief History of Seven Killings

Book - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"A novel framed as a fictional oral history that explores the events and characters surrounding the attempted assassination of Bob Marley during the political turmoil on Jamaica in the late 1970s"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA),, 2014
ISBN: 9781594486005
Characteristics: xiv, 688 pages ;,25 cm


From Library Staff

Nominee, Short List

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Nov 07, 2018

Did not finish Did not like writing style.

Jan 29, 2018

Fifty pages in and I had my doubts. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to acclimate to the various voices and styles that alternate throughout the book, but I'm glad I did. In the end, this narrative unfurls into a spiraling epic that tracks the rise and fall of some of the most interesting characters I've read in a long time. From Jamaican ghetto don to the world-weary journalist, James finds the most interesting aspect of each individual, and makes you care about them despite their obvious (and sometimes despicable) flaws.

So infectious is the writing, I've caught myself rolling the Jamaican patois around in my head over the last couple of days. It's a long read, but it's worth it. In the end, you'll come away with an understanding of the places, times, and individuals that shaped three decades of Jamaican and American life.

Feb 19, 2017

It's been a few days since I finished this book, and the characters' voices are still rattling around in my head. I highly recommend it if you like character driven novels in which the plot takes a backseat. The people in this book affected me as a person.

Nov 19, 2016

An amazing book, if you have curiosity and determination. Not for Speed Readers!!

Keep an ipad next to you with a link to a Jamaican Patois site (there are a few) A tremendous study of music, Jamaica, Caribbean politics and intrigue, history and culture.

In my opinion richly deserving of the Booker, probably the most interesting read I've had this year.

I loved it, but it is definitely not for everyone!

Jul 07, 2016

How to keep track of who is talking? Decided to stop reading after 40 pages - too many other books to read instead of slogging through this one. Frustrating. Can't imagine why it won the Booker; perhaps readability wasn't one of the criteria.

Jun 07, 2016

I got very tired of the F word, how did this book win the Man-Booker Award? Its written like an old Uncle Remus book, if you select this book for a long trip be sure to get a back up book.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 05, 2016

Like the dialogue and the characters, the story is all over the place. It spans decades and places and subplots. Like much of this novel, if you stick with it, it mostly pays off in the end. I guess that's the briefest possible way I can sum up this novel: it's challenging, but it largely pays off if you persevere.

May 30, 2016

The only thing worse than a bad novel is a really long bad novel. Even the author acknowledged that it didn't have a story.

Feb 24, 2016

Not for the faint of heart, Marlon James's A Brief History of Seven Killings captures the contradictions and conflicts that formed Jamaica in the 1970's. Neither brief, nor limited to seven killings, the work encompasses the birth of a new culture at war with the decline of the existing regime. Rolling Stone reporters, CIA agents, Cuban terrorists, and brown-skinned girls from middle-class Jamaica all orbit the Singer, who is the presence that shapes them through his absence.
A Brief History can be a difficult read because of its multitude of characters, violence, and the complexity of its story. It is also funny, tragic, historically formed, and brilliantly written. Well worth the reading time.

Feb 19, 2016

"This country, this goddamn island, is going to kill us."
A sprawling, buzzing, polyphonic novel that spans decades, crossing borders, and gives voice to everyone from gangsters to dead politicians, Marlon James's "A Brief History of Seven Killings" is perhaps the most ambitious book of the last few years. There were other big, important novels last year, like "Purity" and "City on Fire" (Thanks white American novelists!), but this eclipses those books. Starting in Jamaica, where James is from, in 1976, the reader is immersed in the vivid and violent world of Jamaican politics, music, gang wars, and culture. Bob Marley is there as the almost mythic Singer, who was nearly killed in an assassination attempt. James excels at capturing all manner of voices (black, white, male, female, criminal, C.I.A., writer) and creating a fervent, detailed Kingston that breaks through the usual stereotypes (which often reduces the country to reggae, ganja, and beautiful beaches). If there's a flaw, it's that went the book leaves Jamaica for New York it loses some of its passion and drive and settles into a more conventional read. Still, this is an impressive and invigorating novel from a bracing new voice. James now lives and teaches in Minneapolis. This won the Booker in 2015. Suggested pairings: a well-curated reggae/ska playlist, a few Red Stripes, and some rum.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SPL

To Top