Jamaican makes Booker Prize shortlist with Bob Marley-inspired novel

LONDON (AFP, REUTERS) - Marlon James on Tuesday became the first Jamaican shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for fiction, with a novel inspired by an assassination attempt on Bob Marley.

James, 44, was nominated for his third novel, A Brief History Of Seven Killings, which explores the 1976 attack on the Jamaican reggae legend.

The other books on the shortlist are: Satin Island by Tom McCarthy (Britain); The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria); The Year Of The Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota (Britain); A Spool Of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (United States); A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (US).

McCarthy is the only nominee to have been shortlisted before for the annual prize, one of the highest-profile awards in English-language literature.

Obioma, shortlisted for his debut novel, is the second Nigerian nominee, following 1991 winner Ben Okri. Obioma is the youngest nominee this year at 28.

There are no former winners among the nominees.

"The writers on the shortlist present an extraordinary range of approaches to fiction," said Michael Wood, chair of the five-member judging panel.

"They come from very different cultures and are themselves at very different stages of their careers."

Until 2013, the Booker Prize was awarded to the best original full-length novel written in English by a citizen of the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe.

But last year the field was widened to any novel originally written in English and published in Britain.

The move was a bid to stamp the prize's authority as the English-speaking world's foremost literary award, crucially by opening it to the US.

The winner receives £50,000 (S$107,466) and the award all but guarantees an upsurge in book sales and worldwide readership.

Australian author Richard Flanagan won last year's prize with The Narrow Road To The Deep North. The book has sold almost 800,000 copies worldwide.

This is the 47th year of the prize, which began in 1969.

The winner will be revealed at a ceremony on Oct 13 at London's Guildhall.

Jonathan Ruppin, web editor for Foyles bookshops, tipped Yanigihara's A Little Life to win the 2015 prize.

"The judges are evidently determined to reward books that do much more than simply tell a story, whether that be Marlon James' intricate non-linear narrative, Hanya Yanigihara's integration of so many well-realised characters or Tom McCarthy's anthropological musings," he said.