Writers Must Stay Away From Activism: Booker Winner Marlon James
Writers run the risk of didacticism if they turn into activists, says Marlon James, the first Jamaican to win the Booker Prize in 2015.
James, a professor of English at Minnesota’s Macalester College, feels writers need to strike a balance when it comes to dealing with social issues.
He won the Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings. The novel, set in the 1970s and 1980s, is based on the story of an assassination attempt on reggae star Bob Marley. The book explores the turbulent political situation in Jamaica and the West during that period.
The book is told through fifteen characters including gunmen, dons, and politicians. Interestingly, the author hasn’t mentioned Marley by name. But what led to the book?
‘In India, Writers Face Censorship’
James says his literary sensibilities were formed in Jamaica though he moved to the US later for work. And he is not quite sure how his book would be accepted in India as it had explicit scenes of sex and gore.
Though there is no direct censorship in Jamaica, he feels that the country still harboured an outdated Victorian sense of morality.
How has life changed after the Booker?
“People give importance to what I say now. If I put something on Facebook, it becomes the headline of The Guardian,” he chuckles.
His next book will be an ‘African Game of Thrones’, set within the continent.
A big fan of Salman Rushdie, he loves many Indian authors.
“I have too many favourite Indian writers. I am a fan of Amitav Ghosh, Amitava Kumar and Jeet Thayil among many others,” said James adding that he admired Anuradha Roy’s book, the Indian contender in the Booker race.
(Preetha Nair works with IANS.)
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