Marlon James was born in Kingston, Jamaica. In 1991 he graduated from the University of the West Indies, where he read Language and Literature. He left Jamaica to escape homophobic violence and economic conditions that he felt would mean career stagnation.
Compared to the early work of Cormac McCarthy and Toni Morrison, his first novel, John Crow's Devil was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Prize, and was a New York Times Editors' Choice. His second novel, The Book of Night Women, was a finalist for the National Books Critics Circle Award, The NAACP Image Award and won the Minnesota Book Award for Best Novel/Short Story. His 2014 novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, explores several decades of Jamaican history and political instability through the perspectives of many narrators. It won the fiction category of the 2015 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, having been the first book by a Jamaican author ever to be shortlisted. He is the second Caribbean winner of the prize.
James teaches English and creative writing at Macalester College.
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