A Brief History of Seven Killings wins the 2015 Man Booker Prize
Diversity is a bendy word – it has to be, to accommodate such variety. And it turns out that the English language is more diverse - more elastic- than previously imagined. Marlon James, the winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize, has tested that elasticity to its limit – and then shown us that limit is in fact the centre for some.
His winning novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, is a hymn to reclaiming language, to authenticity and to identity. It takes the traditional form of The English Novel and blows it open - takes old familiar words and animates them with vibrant, Jamaican rhythms.
A Brief History of Seven Killings, is a soaring, blistering read. It comprises multiple narrators and weaves reggae and patois, high and low, life and death to create a truly unique representation of violence in Jamaica.
The book is polyvalent, bold and vivacious – and arguably, it is as much about voice and cadence as it is about crime and violence.
The Man Booker Prize finalists were, arguably, the most diverse the prize has ever seen, this year. For the first time, it could be said that this English language prize suggested the full spectrum of English dialects.
As Michael Wood, the chairman of the judges, said in his speech last night, when you read A Brief History of Seven Killings, more than anything else, you will think: I didn’t know a novelist could do that.