St. Paul professor's novel is up for prestigious UK literary prize

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A professor at Macalester College in St. Paul has created history by being in the running for a prestigious literary prize in the United Kingdom.

Marlon James, who joined the college's English department in 2007, has become the first Jamaican author to make the longlist for the Man Booker Prize, gaining recognition for his third novel "A Brief History of Seven Killings," The Guardian reports.

His book tells the story of the attempted assassination of Bob Marley amid the violent backdrop of Jamaica in the 1970s and '80s.

The New York Times described it as: "Epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex. It’s also raw, dense, violent, scalding, darkly comic, exhilarating and exhausting — a testament to Mr. James’s vaulting ambition and prodigious talent."

An associate professor in English, James has won multiple awards since releasing his first novel "John Crow's Devil" in 2005.

He followed up his debut with "The Book of Night Women" in 2010, which won The Minnesota Book Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was a finalist for the 2010 National Books Circle Award in fiction, according to his Macalester College bio.

James also won the Novel and Short Story prize at the 2015 Minnesota Book Awards for "A Brief History of Seven Killings."

What is the Man Booker Prize?

The Man Booker Prize is one of the UK's most celebrated literary awards, having launched in 1969 initially to reward the best novel of the year written in English and published in the United Kingdom, according to its website.

It was then expanded to allow entries written in English from British Commonwealth countries (such as Australia and Canada), before it was expanded again last year to allow English language novels from any country provided it's been published in the UK.

The winner of the prize gets a $75,000 check, with every shortlisted author winning $3,750. The longlist of 13 novels will be whittled down to a shortlist of six that will be announced Sept. 15, with the winner named at a gala in London on Oct. 13.

The winner is chosen by a panel of judges that includes critics, writers, academics, poets, politicians and actors who have a "passion for quality fiction."

Previous winners of the prize include Salman Rushdie, Iris Murdoch and William Golding.

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