Marlon James – A Brief History of Seven Killings

There are many more than seven killings in this ironically titled novel — in fact very long — that starts off set in the Kingston, Jamaica, of the 1970s, amid an efflorescence of political violence. The two major parties, the right-wing Jamaica Labour Party and the left-wing People’s National Party, were pouring guns into West Kingston’s slums to create loyal voting ‘garrisons’, controlled by neighbourhood dons — because ‘who-ever win Kingston win Jamaica and whoever win West Kingston win Kingston’, as one of Marlon James’s characters explains. The CIA was siding with the JLP, or, as another character puts it, ‘squatting on the city, its lumpy ass leaving the sweat print of the Cold War’. In any case, ‘killing don’t need no reason’, the first continues (he’s very much involved in it all): ‘This is ghetto. Reason is for rich people. We have madness…’

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