A Brief History of Seven Killings

A Brief History of Seven Killings

A Novel

Paperback - 2015
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On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions in Kingston, seven gunmen stormed the singer's house, machine guns blazing. The attack wounded Marley, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Little was officially released about the gunmen, but much has been whispered, gossiped, and sung about in the streets of West Kingston. 'A Brief History of Seven Killings' delves deep into that dangerous and unstable time in Jamaica's history and beyond.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2015.
Edition: First Riverhead trade paperback edition.
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9781594633942
Characteristics: xii, 688 pages ; 21 cm
Alternative Title: Brief history of 7 killings


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Dec 04, 2019

184 pages in and nothing has happened. Just when the plot starts to seem like it’s going somewhere or there’s a character you become invested in, the narration changes and it’s almost like you’ve hit rewind to the same plodding story. I’d have been happy with about half has many characters and some action (instead of a seemingly endless buildup). I appreciate the difficulty in creating multiple, distinct voices, but some of the writing is predictable and frankly boring. Disappointing.

Dec 04, 2019

At 686 pages, I was glad to read A Brief History of Seven Killings and to skip any unabridged history. It was quite an epic story over 15 years of Jamaican (and Miami and NYC) social and political history -- revolving around the 1976 attempted assassination of The Singer (Bob Marley), told through the dialogues and monologues of a dozen different narrators, many of them using Jamaican patois. It did get easier as I got used to the language and the different perspectives and by the end I was racing through the chapters as the author brought all the threads to their violent ends. A gripping and complex story by an incredibly talented writer.

Nov 07, 2018

Did not finish Did not like writing style.

Jan 29, 2018

Fifty pages in and I had my doubts. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to acclimate to the various voices and styles that alternate throughout the book, but I'm glad I did. In the end, this narrative unfurls into a spiraling epic that tracks the rise and fall of some of the most interesting characters I've read in a long time. From Jamaican ghetto don to the world-weary journalist, James finds the most interesting aspect of each individual, and makes you care about them despite their obvious (and sometimes despicable) flaws.

So infectious is the writing, I've caught myself rolling the Jamaican patois around in my head over the last couple of days. It's a long read, but it's worth it. In the end, you'll come away with an understanding of the places, times, and individuals that shaped three decades of Jamaican and American life.

Feb 19, 2017

It's been a few days since I finished this book, and the characters' voices are still rattling around in my head. I highly recommend it if you like character driven novels in which the plot takes a backseat. The people in this book affected me as a person.

Nov 19, 2016

An amazing book, if you have curiosity and determination. Not for Speed Readers!!

Keep an ipad next to you with a link to a Jamaican Patois site (there are a few) A tremendous study of music, Jamaica, Caribbean politics and intrigue, history and culture.

In my opinion richly deserving of the Booker, probably the most interesting read I've had this year.

I loved it, but it is definitely not for everyone!

Jul 07, 2016

How to keep track of who is talking? Decided to stop reading after 40 pages - too many other books to read instead of slogging through this one. Frustrating. Can't imagine why it won the Booker; perhaps readability wasn't one of the criteria.

Jun 07, 2016

I got very tired of the F word, how did this book win the Man-Booker Award? Its written like an old Uncle Remus book, if you select this book for a long trip be sure to get a back up book.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 05, 2016

Like the dialogue and the characters, the story is all over the place. It spans decades and places and subplots. Like much of this novel, if you stick with it, it mostly pays off in the end. I guess that's the briefest possible way I can sum up this novel: it's challenging, but it largely pays off if you persevere.

May 30, 2016

The only thing worse than a bad novel is a really long bad novel. Even the author acknowledged that it didn't have a story.

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