A Brief History of Seven Killings is a heavyweight.
Marlon James’ 2015 Man Booker has been described as a masterpiece.
I am thinking more like a monstrous feat.
The tome is told in brilliant dialect, placing you directly in 1976 Jamaica and the convoluted attempted murder of Reggae icon Bob Marley.
James exposes and boldly bares the horrific poverty and violence of the tumultuous corrupted Jamaica of 20th midcentury. Frankly, I wanted to fast forward through the endless painful descriptions of brutal murder, rape and torture. Marlon intertwines a Rashomon style, allowing the reader to understand the A Brief History from a multitude of perspectives, cultural, political and personal. For those that just couldn’t get through the book because of the use of dialect and the truly grisly brutality, I suggest you listen to the audio book because it will quickly streamline your understanding and thus make the book a virtual page turner. And you can fast forward through the uncomfortable chapters that you would otherwise have to face.
On the flip side, books like this are exactly why book club discussions are vital and important. Many books on my shelves are there because I read them for a book group. And, I am grateful I was exposed to these stories because these messages, themes and ideas expanded my understanding of the world. Before you give up or turn down a title because you “don’t read those kinds of books” or you “only read bios” or whatever your druthers, remember that book clubs offer you titles to enrich your literary and cultural landscape. If you don’t want to learn, keep reading the same old comfy thing. Nothing wrong with your favorite pair of literary jeans! Just know a whole literary wardrobe is available to you on the bookshelves of the library.
Or, you can just wait for A Brief History to show up on TV. HBO has plans to make it into a series.