Marlon James scooped this year’s prestigious Man Booker Prize at a glitzy award’s ceremony held last night at London’s Guildhall. The first Jamaican-born author to make the shortlist received his honour from the Duchess of Cornwall, as his third novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings” beat off strong competition. His writing career is a lesson in persistence, highlighted by the fact that he very nearly gave up on his dreams when publishers rejected his first book an astounding 78 times.

Book spans several decades

Now in his mid-40s, the Booker Prize represents an affirmation of his writing talent and guarantees a healthy windfall from the £50,000 top prize.

His winning novel was inspired by the attempted assassination of his fellow countryman, the legendary reggae singer Bob Marley during the 1970s. The Riverhead Books publication spans several decades through its narrative, considering the crack wars in New York in the 1980s and then 1990s politics in Jamaica.

TV series likely

With such varied issues bubbling through almost 700 pages of content, it is perhaps no surprise that HBO are believed to be planning a television series adaptation of the novel. Winning the Booker Prize will surely help to publicise any future production, besides providing a welcome boost to book sales in the interim.

Unanimous decision by judges

After the unanimous decision by the five-person judging panel, the chairman claimed that James’ creation was the “most exciting” of the titles that made the shortlist.

After considering a whopping 156 books for the award this year, Michael Wood added that the winning title was “full of surprises” but littered with violence and swearing.

Not the favourite

James had not been the favourite for success before the ceremony – American Hanya Yanagihara’s “A Little Life had been the bookies’ top tip – but his popularity had seemed to be growing in the build up to the big day.

In truth the competition had been quite an open contest in many experts’ eyes, with many of the six nominees being relatively unknown outside of literary circles.

Open to all nationalities

The Booker Prize was open to all nationalities for only the second year in its history, after Australian Richard Flanagan took the honour last year for his novel “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”.

However the stipulation that all authors should write their book of fiction in the English language continues to hold true.

Other nominees

The other writers to be left somewhat disappointed on the night were:

  • Tom McCarthy (UK), “Satin Island”
  • Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), “The Fishermen”
  • Sunjeev Sahota (UK), “The Year of the Runaways
  • Anne Tyler (US), “A Spool of Blue Thread

For McCarthy it was yet again a case of so near but so far, after previously missing out in 2010 when making the final shortlist. All of the authors at least had the consolation of receiving £2,500 for making the last six, plus a copy of their book specially bound.