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A Brief History of Seven Killings
A Novel
Marlon James
read on December 24, 2020

I made it halfway through this before calling it. The half I read wasn't bad, per say, it just has a terribly steep learning curve. The book follows maybe ~10ish main characters, and each chapter is told from their first person perspective. Most of the stories don't directly relate to one another, at least for the first quarter of the book or so, and so every single chapter is like starting anew. Additionally, the writing style isn't very expository - it's the kind of book that just drops you into the action, and you need to figure out the context and history yourself, which is generally fine but harder to do when you're mentally juggling 10 different characters. Add to that that most of the characters are Jamaican, and written using borderline nonsensically heavy accents. I often had to re-read sentences several times to even figure out what what trying to be said.

Anyway - the first 20% of the book was a hard slog. I had started it earlier in the year and bailed because it was so slow-going. I picked it back up in December and made good progress. By the halfway point I had all the characters pretty well figured out, and was making good progress with the accents. But then I hit Part II, where all new characters are introduced, and the whole learning curve started over, and I just didn't have the patience for it again. This might be a great book, I'd certainly believe anyone who said they loved it. But you really need to fight for it and I didn't have it in me.

Author Bio:

Marlon James (born 24 November 1970) is a Jamaican writer. He has written four novels: John Crow's Devil (2005), The Book of Night Women (2009), A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014), winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize, and Black Leopard, Red Wolf (2019). ... Francis College's Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing.