Jamaican author Marlon James is listed among the 100 Most Influential People of 2019 by Time magazine. James received the prestigious Man Booker prize in 2015 for his novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” which used the attempted assassination of reggae singer Bob Marley as a way to describe social and political conditions in his home country of Jamaica during the 1970s. Receiving the Man Booker prize made James into one of the most important voices of the modern literary generation, and he embraced that role wholeheartedly by speaking out on issues of race, literature, and gay rights, among others. His latest novel, “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” is the first of a trilogy based on African myths, It has been touted as the likely successor to the popular series “Game of Thrones.” The story is a re-imagining of Africa in a fantasy epic that follows in the steps of Tolkien and “Black Panther.” There is an imaginative use of language and many fascinating characters, including shapeshifters and witches, that display the author’s power.
James was born in 1970 in Kingston, Jamaica. Both of his parents were members of the Jamaican police force. His mother gave him his first book, a collection of stories by O. Henry. She became a detective, while his father imparted his love for Shakespeare and Coleridge to his son, became a lawyer. James graduated from the University of the West Indies in 1991 with a degree in Language and Literature. He left Jamaica because of its homophobic violence and poor economic conditions to pursue his writing career in the US. In 2006, he obtained a creative writing degree from Wilkes University. He taught English and creative writing at Macalester College in Minnesota. His first novel was “John Crow’s Devil,” which was rejected 70 times before finally being published. His second novel was “The Book of Night Women,” which tells the story of a slave woman’s revolt on a Jamaican plantation in the 19th century. In 2019, James gave the seventh annual Tolkien Lecture at Pembroke College, Oxford.