4 of 7
A Brief History of Seven Killings
704 pages; Riverhead Books

The winner with page-turning appeal

James' slangy, whip-smart novel—the winner of the Man Booker Prize, the biggest literary prize for books published in the United Kingdom—is on the surface about the 1976 assassination attempt on reggae legend Bob Marley. But as the supersize page count suggests, there's a whole lot more going on, and the longer you immerse yourself in James' rich, propulsive prose and overflowing cast of gangsters and spies, the more you'll feel like you're witnessing a secret history of the second half of the 20th century. The scale is epic and often soaked in wide-screen violence, yet James is also brilliant at intimate portraits of characters like Nina, a lover of Marley's whose harrowing escape from Jamaica to New York exposes just how much a person will sacrifice for freedom.
— Mark Athitakis