To go from reading A Brief History of Seven Killings to reading anything that isn’t A Brief History of Seven Killings is like running a marathon with ankle weights and then taking them off for a walk around the block. A challenging, sweeping, impressive novel, ABH7K is a mental and emotional workout. It taxes the brain and the heart—the former’s capacity for ensemble narration and multiple dialects, and the latter’s tolerance for brutality.
Spanning 1976 to 1991; Kingston, Jamaica, to New York City; ABH7K is a spiral of subplots and broader themes surrounding the (IRL) December 3, 1976 assassination attempt on Bob Marley, which took place two days before a free concert organized to foster peace between warring gangs (who were backed by opposing political parties, who were backed by—or opposed by—the CIA/U.S. government). At various points throughout the 70s and subsequent decades, we peer inside the heads of, among others, the gang members behind the shooting, a journalist hunting for the inside story, a Marley one-night stand desperate to get out of Jamaica, CIA agents stationed in Kingston, and a murdered politician narrating from beyond the grave. What emerges through these intertwined experiences is a window onto a cyclical power struggle of epic criminal and political proportions, a complex web of—to use the appropriate regional terminology—fuckery.Continue reading “A Brief History of Seven Killings: not brief, includes about a billion killings”