Marlon James wins Man Booker Prize 2015

Marlon James wins Man Booker Prize 2015

Marlon James has won the Man Booker Prize 2015 for his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld).

James, who is the first Jamaican to have won the £50,000 award in its history, was announced as the winner at a ceremony in London’s Guildhall on Tuesday 13th October.

Chair of judges, academic and author Michael Wood, called the novel "extraordinary" and said it was "very exciting, very violent and very funny".

James' triumph also marks the first Man Booker Prize win for independent publisher Oneworld.

Juliet Mabey, publisher at Oneworld, said: "We are so thrilled for Marlon. He is one of the most exciting writers today, and his writing is going from strength to strength. His second novel, The Book of Night Women, was actually the first novel we published here at Oneworld, back in 2009, and I absolutely fell in love with it, but A Brief History of Seven Killings is definitely his most ambitious novel to date - it’s a heavyweight, mature, and complex novel - and we couldn’t be more proud to publish it.

"It has been an outstanding year for fiction and this year’s Man Booker longlist showcased some really stunning books from all over the world, so we are truly thrilled that the Man Booker jury has chosen A Brief History of Seven Killings as this year’s best novel."

Wood said: "This book is startling in its range of voices and registers, running from the patois of the street posse to The Book of Revelation. It is a representation of political times and places, from the CIA intervention in Jamaica to the early years of crack gangs in New York and Miami.

"It is a crime novel that moves beyond the world of crime and takes us deep into a recent history we know far too little about. It moves at a terrific pace and will come to be seen as a classic of our times."

Speaking at the post-Man Booker press conference, James praised both his UK publisher Oneworld and his US publisher Riverhead, an imprint of Penguin Random House. "Big or small, you want a publisher that is in your corner. That's what they both have in common." He also said he was "hugely indebted to crime fiction", and hopes people saw it as a victory for genre writing.

Wood was joined on this year's judging panel by critic, broadcaster and editor Ellah Allfrey, novelist John Burnside, the Spectator's literary editor Sam Leith, and author Frances Osborne.

The judges unanimously agreed on the winner, deciding on James during a discussion that lasted less than two hours.

"We started, as we have done for the whole year, talking about all the books," said Wood. "As we talked certain books sounded further away than other books. At a certain point it dawned on us this was the book."

James' novel fictionalises the events leading up to the real-life attempted assassintion of Bob Marley, and its long-reaching consequences. It covers the 1970s in Jamaica, before heading to New York and Miami in the  1980s, following a cast of characters including gang members, CIA officials, and a journalist.

A Brief History of Seven Killings has sold 12,237 copies through Nielsen BookScan across all editions for £103,077, a 82.8% increase on its volume before the shortlist announcement. Last week the paperback sold 1,206 copies to take 268th place in the chart.

James was presented with his award by the Duchess of Cornwall. He will make his first public appearance as the winner of the Man Booker Prize at Stylist Live in London on Thursday 15th October.

The other shortlisted books were Tom McCarthy's Satin Island (Jonathan Cape), Chigozie Obioma's The Fishermen (ONE/Pushkin), Sunjeev Sahota's The Year of the Runaways (Picador), Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread (Chatto & Windus) and Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life (Picador).

Each of the shortlisted authors will receive £2,500 and a specially bound copy of their book.