Jamaican author Marlon James won the Man Booker Prize for best novel on Tuesday for “A Brief History of Seven Killings”, a re-telling of the attempted assassination of musician Bob Marley.
James, 44, is the first Jamaican to win the prestigious annual literary prize in its 47-year history.
“Oh my god, oh wow,” James said as he took to the podium after being announced the winner at the ceremony in London.
“This is so sort of ridiculous I think I’m going to wake up tomorrow and it didn’t happen,” he added, as he dedicated the award to his late father.
The 686-page crime tale traces the rise of the drug trade on the Caribbean island and contains lengthy parts written in Jamaican patois.
It beat bookmakers’ favourite, US author Hanya Yanagihara’s “A Little Life” to take the prize.
“It is a crime novel that moves beyond the world of crime and takes us deep into a recent history we know far too little about,” said chair of judges Michael Wood after the winner was announced.
“It moves at a terrific pace and will come to be seen as a classic of our times.”
The Man Booker Prize was previously open only to fiction written in English by authors from Britain, Ireland, the Commonwealth and Zimbabwe but this is the second year it has been open to all nationalities.