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A Jamaican civil war, with cameos from Bob Marley

A review of A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James. This novel breaks new ground in its language, which oscillates between various stations on the ‘creole continuum'

1 November 2014

9:00 AM

1 November 2014

9:00 AM

A Brief History of Seven Killings Marlon James

One World, pp.686, £18.99, ISBN: 9781780745879

There are many more than seven killings in this ironically titled novel — in fact very long — that starts off set in the Kingston, Jamaica, of the 1970s, amid an efflorescence of political violence. The two major parties, the right-wing Jamaica Labour Party and the left-wing People’s National Party, were pouring guns into West Kingston’s slums to create loyal voting ‘garrisons’, controlled by neighbourhood dons — because ‘who-ever win Kingston win Jamaica and whoever win West Kingston win Kingston’, as one of Marlon James’s characters explains.

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