Marlon James has won the Green Carnation Prize, awarded to LGBT writers, for A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld).
The book, a political thriller about the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in Jamaica in 1976, beat off competition from Patricia Duncker's Sophie and the Sibyl (Bloomsbury), Patrick Gale's A Place Called Winter (Tinder Press), Johann Hari's Chasing the Scream (Bloomsbury Circus), Gavin McCrea's Mrs Engels (Scribe) and Erwin Mortier's Stammered Songbook (Pushkin Press) to claim the prize.
James said: “I am so thankful to the prize, the judges and Foyles to be announced the winner in the prize's sixth year. Six years ago I wouldn’t have been able to voice that I was LGBT, so to be recognised for that and for work the judges felt was great is fantastic.”
Chair of the judges, Niven Govinden said: “We were bowled over by both the ambition of this novel and its sheer visceral power. A story that crosses Jamaica and America, spanning decades and voices; fiction embedded in historical fact; that explores complex webs of crime, politics and power, unspoken truths of desire and sexuality, and the rare messianic hold that singers can have on the collective consciousness; never feeling anything less than urgent, vital, and alive.”
The prize, awarded in partnership with Foyles, also encompassed works of translation this year.
Simon Heafield, marketing manager for Foyles, said: “Ever since the first advance proofs of A Brief History of Seven Killings arrived we knew it was a very special book indeed. Having championed it from day one we're delighted that winning the Green Carnation Prize gives us another reason to press Marlon James's important novel into readers' hands.”
The prize was judged by Jack Monroe, campaigner, writer, blogger and chef; Sophie Ward, actor and writer; Eric Karl Anderson, writer and reviewer and Celise Galloway, Local Marketing Manager of Foyles, and chaired by author Govinden.
James was born in Jamaica. A Brief History of Seven Killings has also won the 2015 Man Booker Prize, the American Book Award and the Anisfield-Wolf Fiction Prize.