Jamaican prize-winning novel on Bob Marley, review

This music video, recorded in Germany, is called Bob Marley – Live In Rockpalast, Dortmund (Full Concert) – 1980.

By Karl Dallas in Britain:

Monumental musings on mayhem and Marley

Tuesday 10th November 2015

KARL DALLAS recommends this year’s Man Booker prizewinner, set in Jamaica from the turbulent 1970s onwards

A Brief History of 7 Killings
by Marlon James
(Riverhead Books, £8.99)

WINNER of this year’s Man Booker prize, this long story of over 700 pages centres on the attempted assassination of reggae singer Bob Marley in 1976.

It’s a monumental and multifaceted achievement even though, because much of it is in Jamaican patois, it is not an easy read.

And, because of its depiction of the lower depths of Jamaican society, it’s unlikely to obtain the endorsement of the Jamaican tourist board.

The genesis of the author’s third book began in some confusion. In a note at the end he writes of its conception: “I had a narrative, even a few pages, but still not quite a novel. The problem was that I couldn’t tell whose story it was.

“Draft after draft, page after page, character after character, and still no through line, no narrative spine, nothing.”

A colleague suggested that he turn those fragments into a multivoiced narrative. “I had a novel, and it was right in front of me all that time. Half-formed and fully formed characters, scenes out of place, hundreds of pages that needed sequence and purpose.

“A novel that would be driven only by voice.”

Supposedly, it took the Man Booker judges just two hours’ discussion before they unanimously gave James the award but it’ll take readers many hours more, if not days and weeks more, to reach their own verdict.

This is a big book, not only in length but in depth also.

Reading it, I was reminded many times of the nightmare “Nighttime” dream sequence in James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Like that book, its strength is its basis in reality. But while Joyce concentrated the focus of his work on a single Dublin day, Marlon James’s narrative begins in 1976 and ends in 1991, shifting from one ghetto to another and from Kingston, Jamaica to Miami and New York.

It’s not something you can read just once and leave to gather dust on your bookshelves. I guarantee that, if you are prepared to put the work in, it will repay repeated readings in the years to come.

The author doesn’t make things easy, though.

Although he provides a list of the 70-odd — some very odd — characters at the beginning of the book, his hero-victim is referred to only as the Singer, although a Rolling Stone journalist says at one stage: “I should head back to Marley’s house tomorrow. I mean, I had an appointment. Like that means anything in Jamaica.”

The various ghettos are given new names. Kingston’s Tivoli Gardens becomes Copenhagen, which loses the irony of the original name for what one local newspaper has described as the worst slum in the Caribbean, where “three communal standpipes and two public bathrooms served a population of well over 5,000 people.”

If the book has anything like a central character, it would be Josey Wales — in real life, many Jamaicans have adopted names from US films. Robert Brammer became Clint Eastwood. Shotta Sherrif/Roland Palmer, don of the Eight Lanes, takes his name from Marley’s “I shot the sheriff” and the term becomes a generic description of ghetto killers.

“Me stun like little boy when him first see a dead shotta,” says one character.

Wales is obviously based on the real-life Lester Coke, the former Tivoli posse drugs boss, whose death in a crack-house fire is the climax of James’s story.

The book could do with a patois glossary and one advantage of reading the Kindle edition is that if you select a word you don’t understand you can sometimes, though not always, be given an explanation.

One thing that jarred with me was the frequent obscenities. I have interviewed many Jamaican musicians, including Marley, but none of them peppered their speech with terms like “pussyhole,” which appears over 100 times in the text.

Though few of the characters could be said to be models of spiritual perfection, most of them are in fact deeply religious and not just the comparatively few Rastafarians depicted within the book.

Before he is ousted as Copenhagen “don” by the Wales/Coke character, Papa-Lo muses: “The world now feeling like the seven seals breaking one after the other. Hataclaps or ill feeling, something in the air.”

Hataclaps means “apocalypse” and the reference is to the last book in the Bible, the trippy Revelation of St John the Evangelist.

As the CIA Jamaica chief says, the situation there was “like Cuba in 1959, only worse because this was all religious.”

Reggae message: We don’t need no more trouble. . . Bob Marley

Originally posted on JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba:

…Make love and not war!
‘Cause we don’t need no trouble.

What we need is love (love)
To guide and protect us on. (on)
Help the weak if you are strong now. (love)…
…we don’t need no more war, no more trouble
No more trouble – we don’t need no more – more trouble!

Bob Marley

No More Trouble

bob marley 30(We don’t need) No, we don’t need (no more trouble) no more trouble!
(We don’t need no more trouble)

Wo! Oh-oh-oh!
(We don’t need) We don’t need no (no more) trouble!
We don’t need no trouble!

(We don’t need no more trouble)
Make love and not war! ‘Cause we don’t need no trouble.
What we need is love (love)
To guide and protect us on. (on)
If you hope good down from above, (love)
Help the weak if you are strong now. (love)

View original 190 more words

Caribbean crustacean named after Bob Marley

This video is about the crustacean, recently called after Bob Marley.

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Better than nothing? Bloodsucking parasite named after Bob Marley.

Gnathia marleyi, a tiny crustacean that feeds off the blood of reef-dwelling Caribbean fish, has been named in honor – for lack of a better term – of the Jamaican musician Bob Marley.

By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Managing Editor / July 10, 2012

The late Jamaican musician Bob Marley has joined the “I have a species named after me” club, as a parasitic crustacean has been donned Gnathia marleyi, researchers announced today (July 10).

This blood feeder infests certain fish that live among the coral reefs of the shallow eastern Caribbean Sea.

“I named this species, which is truly a natural wonder, after Marley because of my respect and admiration for Marley’s music,” Paul Sikkel, an assistant professor of marine ecology at Arkansas State University, said in a statement. “Plus, this species is as uniquely Caribbean as was Marley.”

Marley now belongs to a club that includes President Barack Obama, whose name inspired Caloplaca obamae, the moniker for a lichen growing on Santa Rosa island in California. Late-night comedian Stephen Colbert has two insects named for him, while Mick Jagger‘s name was given to an extinct trilobite, Aegrotocatellus jaggeri. Even singer Beyoncé is a card-carrying member, with a species of horse fly with a golden rear now named Scaptia (Plinthina) beyonceae. [StarStruck: Species Named After Celebrities]

Juvenile gnathid isopods hide within coral rubble or algae so they can launch surprise attacks on fish, and then infest them. As adults, the parasites don’t eat. “We believe that adults subsist for two to three weeks on the last feedings they had as juveniles and then die, hopefully after they have reproduced,” Sikkel said in a statement.

With reports suggesting coral reef communities in the Caribbean are declining due to diseases, Sikkel’s team is examining whether there’s a link between reef health and gnathid populations. G. marleyi, like other gnathids, is similar to blood-sucking ticks or mosquitoes.

And like the land-lubbing ticks, gnathids are responsible for many diseases, in thise case those afflicting coral-reef fish, the researchers said. “We suspect that coral degradation leads to more available habitat for external parasites to ‘launch attacks’ on host fishes,” he said. “And as the number of potential host fish decreases, each remaining host will become more heavily parasitized.”

Sikkel first discovered the newly identified gnathid about 10 years ago in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where it was so common he assumed it had been described. Not so, according to Nico J. Smit of North-West University in South Africa, who later examined a specimen of the species. Next, the research team raised the organism from its juvenile stage through adulthood.

Sikkel and his team describe all of G. marleyi’s life stages in the June 6 issue of the journal Zootaxa.

See also here.

The Bob Marley parasite and 6 other species named after famous people: here.

The Life, Music and Legacy of Bob Marley: here.

Lady Gaga Inspires Names of New Fern Species: here.

With sea ice in the Arctic melting to record lows in summer months, marine animals living there face dramatic changes to their environment. Yet some crustaceans, previously thought to spend their entire lives on the underside of sea ice, were recently discovered to migrate deep underwater and follow ocean currents back to colder areas when ice disappears: here.