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A Brief History of Seven Killings : Book Review

A Violent Real-Life History Woven in a Fictional Story

A Brief History of Seven Killings is partly fiction and partly non-fiction. This Man Booker prize-winning novel by Marlon James is about the attempted assassination on Jamaican singer and songwriter Bob Marley. It so happened – in 1976, a group of people armed with guns barged into the singer’s home in Jamaica and attacked him. But the singer, luckily, survived and went on to perform in a concert which was scheduled 2 days after the incident took place. And look at the irony of it- it was a ‘peace’ concert, a chilling contrast to the violence Marley faced just a few hours before it.

The mystery which remains unsolved to date is the identity of the assassins or who sent them and why. Marlon James takes this real event and adds some of his own to create a story that is half history, half political and half thriller. The story revolves around this incident and the fates of the assassins.

This is a big book, around 700 pages long! So be prepared to spend a significant amount of time bent over it if you are thinking of picking it up. For a book that long, there are many characters to remember and incidents to digest. The novel narrates events that take place over the course of 30 years.

James has given each chapter a different voice. With every chapter, you will be introduced to a new character who takes over the story and gives it a further push. So it’s a different sort of novel that requires lots of time investment, memorizations and patience.


We rate it 4/5. The author’s efforts to create this masterful piece are laudable and have been recognized with various accolades and awards. It is a good read for those with a taste for political thrillers and ghastly events from history. This book is also an excellent pick for writers to be. It can teach them about the art of storytelling through its multiple narrator approach and blend of fiction with non-fiction.