I just finished…

…”A Brief History of Seven Killings,” Marlon James’s Booker Prize winning novel about Jamaica, which comes down to drugs, murderous gangs, murderous politicians, murderous CIA agents, murderous Columbians, and murderous Cubans, which results in a unified if possibly reductive world view. The novel jumps sequentially across several decades and is presented in alternating first-person accounts by, oh, a dozen different narrators. There is little exposition to fill in background for uninformed readers and no glossary to define terms of the language of the Jamaican underclass from which most of these narrators come for those unfamiliar with it.

I am among the uninformed and unfamiliar, and my normal mode of reading — about ten pages per night in each of the four or five books I have going simultaneously — did not suit this one well. I also thought that James did not render well the speaking voices of white Americans, a language with which I am acquainted, though the speaking voices of his Jamaicans, which I must take on faith, seemed terrific.

It’s a good book — but bone up on the last fifty years of Jamaican history before jumping in.