Last week the Jamaican novelist Marlon James unleashed his 600-page-plus blockbuster of a book A Brief History of Seven Killings. It’s a story that starts with the attempt on Bob Marley’s life in Kingston in 1976, and then reaches outwards to Miami and New York and forwards to the 1990s. Music looms large over Jamaican life, culture and history, so James has chosen five key tunes that take in the whole of the era covered by his novel.
However, there’s no Bob Marley. “I could have easily included on. Even though the story starts with the whole attempt on Marley, it goes on a good 15 years. It’s about people involved with him, but it’s not a Bob Marley novel. And at the same time, the people in the book, what they would have been listening too – it probably wouldn’t have been him. This is what the characters would be into – and not me. Not what I would like or what is cool, but what would have soundtracked the people in those places.”