A Brief History of Seven Killings

  • by Marlon James
  • Narrated by Robertson Dean, Cherise Boothe, Dwight Bacquie, Ryan Anderson, Johnathan McClain, Robert Younis, Thom Rivera
  • 26 hrs and 0 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Winner, The Man Booker Prize, 2015
On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.
Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters - assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts - A Brief History of Seven Killings is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the 1970s, to the crack wars in 1980s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the 1990s. Brilliantly inventive and stunningly ambitious, this novel is a revealing modern epic that will secure Marlon James' place among the great literary talents of his generation.

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Me Bredren, a Lectrifyin Novel on Jamaican Mob


A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS is a riveting novel -- the best novel that I can recall in the past nearly 50 years focused on organized crime, and it may be the best ever mob-centered novel in terms of literary structure and scope. It's destined to make all the lists for best books of this decade and probably for the best books since 2000. It's already been garnered for author Marlon James the 2015 Man Booker Prize.

I cannot recall a novel in the past two decades so powerful, so searing in its combination of unique voice, intriguing characters and captivating storylines, such as when it gives a number of thrilling and feverish first-person accounts for a December 1976 shooting of the character known as The Singer and the immediate, devastating aftermath, and later provides a fascinating, fictional (though plausible) explanation for Bob Marley's (I mean, the Singer character's) death in early 1981 from cancer.

The book is told almost solely in the first person narrative accounts of various characters. It follows the Greater Kingston, Jamaica gangs (chiefly, the one known as the Storm Posse) and related characters over 3 decades - in Greater Kingston for the first 2, then mainly in New York from 1985 to 1991.

The 2 complaints about this audiobook seem to be limited to: 1) difficulty in understanding the narration of some of the characters due to their broad Jamaican accent, particularly one (a teen from the slums) who slurs together his words; and, 2) too many characters to follow. Please allow me to answer each because I'd hate for anyone to miss such a treasure based on either of these two fears, both of which are simply resolved.

As to the first, I'll admit that I nearly gave up on the book with the narrative accent of the character Bam-Bam, a teen gang member. I decided that instead of abandoning the novel, I'd listen again to his first chapter. Shortly thereafter something funny happened: I began to comprehend all the Jamaican characters, including Bam-Bam, after that one re-listen and from listening to that of other Jamaican characters (maybe 90% of the book is in Jamaican accents, most of which are relatively easy to immediately comprehend). The way Marlon James wrote the novel, having multiple narrators was imperative and proved well worth it. Moreover, the accents tremendously enhanced the experience of the book.

By the way, this book has me searching for other Marlon James novels. What a talent!

As for the number of characters, I simply downloaded the kindle sample of the book which has a straightforward list of characters. With this list, I had no problem keeping up with the characters.

Also, I'll note that some females may be offended by the number of times they use the P word and the repetitive use of the derogative Jamaican slang term "bumbaclot." You don't wanna know what this means literally, trust me.

Aside from that, I cannot recommend this novel highly enough.

An' one more ting me need you don fahget, me ute:

Don pess on da gorgon!
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- W Perry Hall "One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope"

Had to buy the hardcover book to accompany

What would have made A Brief History of Seven Killings better?

I am still listening to this book, but I have to admit I had to buy the hardcover accompany the audiobook. The book actually has a three page list of characters that I needed to track the story, especially in the beginning. Also, the chapters were titled by the voice of the narrator, so that made it a lot easier to track. I am really enjoying the performances, but don't think I could stay the course without the character list.


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- Andy Keck

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-20-2014
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books