MORE REAL THAN REAL: HISTORIC AND SPECULATIVE FICTION 400 YEARS INTO THE DIASPORA
A conversation with novelists Marlon James & David Bradley
Four centuries after the first Africans were brought to the shores of North America as captives, Pen/Faulkner Award-winning novelist of The Chaneysville Incident, David Bradley and novelist Marlon James, 2015 Man Booker Prize winner for A Brief History of Seven Killings, meet in conversation to discuss their work and the role of historical and speculative fiction as possible correction, reflection, and refraction of the Black experience.
David Bradley is the author of the urban-blues novel South Street (1975) and the Chaneysville Incident (1981). Long-appointed by critics as the successor to Ellison’s The Invisible Man, The Chaneysville Incident is described as “unsparing in its portrayal of racial violence,” and features John Washington, a history professor whose return home becomes symbolic of a Black America charged with the task of recovering legacy and truth through a diligent and painful hunt, and through listening to the winds of a historical past that has not quite left us. Born and raised in a small town outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bradley now lives in Southern California. His short story "You Remember the Pinmill,"was awarded a 2014 O. Henry Prize. His most recent work in nonfiction has appeared in the journals Narrative, Brevity and TriQuarterly. He is currently at work on a collection of essays, The Bondage Hypothesis: Meditations on Race, History and America.
Born in Jamaica and describing himself as a “post-post-colonial writer,” Marlon James published his first novel in 2005. John Crow’s Devil, a heady amalgam of Caribbean lore, patois and the age-old battle between good and evil, went on to become a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction. His second novel, The Book of Night Women, is told through the eyes of a female protagonist born amidst the cruelty and terror of a Jamaican sugar plantation at the turn of the 19th century. The work was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction and earned an NAACP Image Award. His third novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, is a re-imagined and re-energized account of the 1976 assassination attempt on the life of Bob Marley told in multi-voice. The novel is the winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize and was named a New York Times’ Notable Book. James’ latest novel, Black Leopard, Red Wolf is the first installment of his Dark Star trilogy.