1. When Jamaican author Marlon James was writing his novel, "A Brief History of Seven Killings", he said he wanted the book to feel just like life. “I had one rule when I was writing. Every day, at least once a day, I should say, ‘I didn’t see that coming.'”
  2. The fiction novel spans three decades. James uses the failed assassination attempt of reggae legend Bob Marley in 1976 to tell a larger story of rival gangs in Jamaica, partisan politics enmeshed in the Cold War Era, the tales of CIA operatives, and the violent Jamaican drug trade transplanted to a new generation in the Bronx, New York City.
  3. A range of conspiracy theories followed Bob Marley's assassination attempt. In a time of turmoil for Jamaica's rival political groups, some say only Marley, a Rastafarian, was calling for peace. Just days before his "Smile Jamaica" concert, three intruders allegedly shot the singer, his wife Rita Marley, and several others in their home.
  4. During the Smile Jamaica concert in Kingston, Jamaica on December 5, 1976, Marley sang the song below titled, "Rat Race." At 1:01 he sings, "Political violence fill ya city, ye-ah! Don't involve Rasta in your say say. Rasta don't work for no C.I.A."
  5. 05. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Rat Race [Smile Jamaica Concert]
  6. The novel refers to the rivalry between Jamaica's two main political groups, the socialist-democratic People's National Party (PNP) at the time led by prime minister Michael Manley and allegedly influenced by Cuba and Russia, and the conservative Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), rumoured to be aided by the CIA. Some allege that the CIA funneled guns into the country to destabilise Manley's government. Characters in James' novel illustrate the battleground where partisan terrorist groups used gun violence to settle turf and elections.
  7. Today, both of the parties continue to vie for power. Some Jamaicans are tweeting about a need for change.
  8. But Jamaica does not have a fixed election date and relies on funding from the International Monetary Fund, as well as other international funding agencies. One user from Jamaica says the problem stems from more than just rival political parties.
  9. Politics and gangs are intertwined in the island's ghettos or garrison communities, often ruled by armed leaders with political ties as seen with James' characters "Josey Wales" and "Papa Lo". Today these dons may provide social benefits to the community. Below, druglord Christopher "Dudus" Coke was seen as a community hero in Kingston who helped deliver elections. He received a 23 year sentence after being extradited to the US on charges of weapons and drug trafficking. At least 73 people died while security forces got Coke out of Jamaica and into US custody.
  10. Praising a Jamaican 'drug lord'
  11. "A Brief History of Seven Killings" offers a backdrop for a time in Jamaica's history where physical and sexual violence, drug wars, partisan politics, Cold War influence, and the love of reggae music were woven into the island's society. The book was among 15 finalists for the prestigious Man Booker Prize. The winner will be announced in October.
  12. This marks the second year that authors of any nationality have been eligible for the Man Booker Prize, which comes with a payment of about $78,000. Before last year, only authors from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth of Nations were considered.
  13. The Stream asked its community what implications there are for choosing Bob Marley as the central point for the novel and how his character as the unnamed "Singer" functioned in the book.
  14. The Stream also asked what questions they have for the Jamaican author.
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