Subscribe

'A Brief History of Seven Killings' is praised for its epic history

The book by Marlon James about Jamaica and its culture, which was released today, is being called 'mythic' and 'fascinating.'

  • close
    'A Brief History of Seven Killings' is by Marlon James.
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

The new book “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” by Marlon James is receiving rave reviews for its wide-ranging plot and memorable characters. 

In “Seven,” James looks at the history and culture of Jamaica, ranging from the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the 1970s, to the drug culture of New York in the 1980s, and then back to Jamaica, a changed country, in the 1990s. Characters include Nina, a Jamaican-born woman who moves to New York and works as a nurse, and Papa-Lo, a don in the city of Kingston.

Amazon selected “Seven” as one of its 10 best books of October althoug Amazon editorial director Sara Nelson noted that “it’s not a peaceful or an easy read.” 

In addition to earning a slot on Amazon's "10 best" list, the book is garnering other praise as well. New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani called James’s novel “epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex. It’s also raw, dense, violent, scalding, darkly comic, exhilarating and exhausting – a testament to Mr. James’s vaulting ambition and prodigious talent…. Mr. James’s characters … exhale their thoughts in language that is casually profane, and as kinetic and syncopated as music.”

John Domini of the Washington Post was also impressed. 

“This compelling, not-so-brief history brings off a social portrait worthy of Diego Rivera, antic and engagé, a fascinating tangle,” he wrote. “The epic sweep of “Seven Killings” never feels cartoonish.”

Laura Pearson of the Chicago Tribune occasionally found the number of characters confusing, writing that “the reader has to regularly consult the cast of characters listed in the front of the book to put names in context,” a concern shared by Kakutani. However, Pearson also found that “some of the narrative could arguably be condensed” but wrote that the book is “an impressive feat of storytelling: raw, uncompromising, panoramic yet meticulously detailed.” 

Kirkus Reviews also noted the large cast of characters and called the book “occasionally patience-testing,” but found that “James is masterful at inhabiting a variety of voices and dialects…. [H]e has a ferocious and full character in Nina…. But the book is undeniably overstuffed.” 

“Seven” was released on Oct. 2.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK