Marlon James makes hero’s return to the Caribbean at Bocas festival

Repeating Islands

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An article by Claire Armistead for London’s Guardian.

When Marlon James appeared at Trinidad’s Bocas festival in 2013, he was the author of two novels little known outside the Americas, who used a keynote speech to decry the concept of a national literature. He joked about being restricted to asking pre-selected questions of an interviewee because he was deemed “unsuitable to represent Jamaica to an international forum, which was sort of like telling Bunny Wailer that you cannot hang out with Peter Tosh because you have never been known to smoke weed”.

His ascent to international celebrity began two years later, when he won the fiction section of the OCM Bocas prize with A Brief History of Seven Killings, losing the overall award to a St Lucian poet, Vladimir Lucien. He returned this month as a national hero, though what exactly that means to this archipelago of some…

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