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Marlon James

Distinguished Visiting Writer 2017, 2020

About Marlon James

Marlon James won the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for A Brief History of Seven Killings, making him the first Jamai-can author to take home the U.K.’s most prestigious literary award. In the work, James combines masterful storytelling with brilliant skill at characterization and an eye for detail to forge a bold novel of dazzling ambition and scope. He explores Jamaican history through the perspectives of multiple narrators and genres: the political thriller, the oral biography, and the classic whodunit confront the untold history of Jamaica in the 1970’s, with excursions to the assassination attempt on reggae musician Bob Marley, as well as the country’s own clandestine battles during the cold war. James cites influences as diverse as Greek tragedy, William Faulkner, the LA crime novelist James Ellroy, Shakespeare, Batman and the X-Men. Writing for The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani said of A Brief History of Seven Killings, “It’s 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.” In addition to the Man Booker Prize, A Brief History of Seven Killings won the American Book Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. James is in the process of adapting the work into an HBO television series.

Marlon James’ first novel, John Crow’s Devil, tells the story of a biblical struggle in a remote Jamaican village in the 1950s. Though rejected 70 times before being accepted for publica-tion, John Crow’s Devil went on to become a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, as well as a New York Times Editor’s Choice. His second novel, The Book of Night Women, is about a slave women’s revolt on a Jamaican plantation in the early 19th century. The work won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award n fiction, as well as an NAACP Image Award. James’ short fiction and nonfiction have been anthologized in Bronx Noir, The Book of Men: Eighty Writers on How to Be a Man and else

where, and have appeared in Esquire, Granta, Harper’s, The Caribbean Review of Books and other publications. His widely read essay, “From Jamaica to Minnesota to Myself,” appeared in the New York Times Magazine. In early 2016 his viral video Are you racist? ‘No’ isn’t a good enough answer received millions of hits. He is currently working on the Dark Star Trilogy, a fantasy series set in African legend. The first book in the series will be Black Leopard, Red Wolf (Riverhead Books, February 5, 2019). Marlon James was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1970. He graduated from the University of the West Indies in 1991 with a degree in Language and Literature, and from Wilkes University in Pennsylvania in 2006 with a Masters in creative writing. He lives in Minne-apolis, Minnesota and teaches English and creative writing at Macalester College. In 2018 Marlon James received an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. In his presentations, James addresses topics related to writing and the writing process, as well as issues pertaining to the history of the Caribbean, race and gender in the US and UK, and youth subcultures as expressed in literature and music such as hip-hop and reggae.

Find Events with Marlon James

Black Leopard Red Wolf Reading Group
Marlon James, Michael Bennett

Date: Tuesday, December 3, 2019 - 12:00pm
Location: Lattie F. Coor Hall Room 4401, Arizona State University, 976 South Forest Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281
Type & Genre: Book Club, Conversation, Discussion; African American, Fantasy, Fiction, Novels

In anticipation of Reclaiming the Fantasy Novel, a talk and reading with award-winning author Marlon James on January 17, 2019, the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) is hosting a reading group for James' latest novel, Black Leopard Red Wolf with ASU Professor Michael Bennett on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Lattie F.


Reclaiming the Fantasy Novel
Marlon James, Michael Bennett

Date: Friday, January 17, 2020 - 7:00pm
Location: Carson Ballroom, Old Main, Arizona State University, 400 E Tyler Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281
Type & Genre: Conversation, Discussion, Talk; African American, Fantasy, Fiction, Novels, Science Fiction

As people of colour in the diaspora, we’re particularly interested in stories that go beyond slavery. I’m tired of that being seen as the furthest in the past we can go or that swords and sorcery aren’t available to us.

—Marlon James, from "You have to risk going too far," an interview with Alex Preston at The Guardian, February 17, 2019