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ep 04 “unflinching” | Marlon James

Writing Home: American Voices from the Caribbean

September 23, 2021

Kaiama and Tami kick off the second season of WRITING HOME with Booker Prize-winning author Marlon James. Just like Marlon’s unflinching novels, our hosts and their guest don’t shy away from any subject, whether it be whiteness and political violence, how to read and write trauma, slavery, misconceptions about queer Jamaican life, or the Black time continuum. Marlon explains how he uses complexity to avoid writing banal caricatures and how he empathizes with the unpalatable characters of his homeland. Because, as he points out, he’s not part of the Jamaican tourist board.

Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 1970. His most recent novel, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, the first novel in James’s Dark Star trilogy, was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award. His previous novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, was the winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize, The American Book Award, and The Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize for fiction. He is also the author of the novels John Crow’s Devil and The Book of Night Women, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

Reading List

Marlon’s podcast with his editor, Jake Morrissey: Marlon and James Read Dead People

Marlon’s novels:
Black Leopard, Red Wolf (2019)
A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014)
The Book of Nightwomen (2009)
John Crow’s Devil (2005)

Works Marlon mentioned:
Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work by Edwidge Danticat (2010)
The Dead Yard: A Story of Modern Jamaica by Ian Thomson (2009)
“The Danger of a Single Story,” a TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2009)
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño (1998)
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)
“Our Myths, Our Selves,” an Oxford University Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature by Marlon James (2019)