The internet was abuzz last week with the news that Booker Prize winning A Brief History of Seven Killings is going to be an Amazon series.
Contrary to the gushing praise this announcement received, I was appalled.
Because I have deep and complicated feelings for A Brief History. Feelings that will not be soothed by a TV show.
The book tells the story of the attempted assassination of Bob Marley, while sweeping the reader up on a journey through some of the most tumultuous years of Jamaica’s history.
I came to it reluctantly in 2015, shortly after it had won the Man Booker and everyone was raving about it.
Everyone but me.
I’d read Marlon James second book, John Crow’s Devil, and loathed it.
An overwrought plot, incomprehensible dialogue, and downright disgusting in parts, after John Crow’s Devil, there was no way you could’ve convinced me to touch another Marlon James book.
Except that a friend did (to be fair, this friend is in my book club so I knew she could be trusted).
I borrowed A Brief History from that same friend and took it home on a Friday night.
I’d finished it by the following Tuesday.
Turning the last page, I sat there on the sofa for several minutes, just staring into space.
My husband breezed past and stopped to ask if I was okay.
“Uh? Oh, yeah. Just…this book….yeah.”
A Brief History had blown my mind so much I could no longer form a sentence.
That’s how good it was.
But here’s why I don’t want it to be an Amazon series.
Books that successfully make the tricky leap from page to screen are those in which the plot is the star.
Scriptwriters like to strip a book down to its essential elements, losing a little of the literary magic but captivating TV audiences with a good story.
While A Brief History is no slouch in the plot department, the story is actually the least interesting thing about this book.
What had me so shell-shocked after reading it wasn’t what the characters did, it was the world they inhabited.
A world I felt a part of, thanks to the totally engrossing quality of James’ writing, the vibrancy of the language and the way writer and reader communicate to pull you under.
I like to tell people that A Brief History isn’t a book, it’s an experience.
And that’s something Amazon can’t possibly hope to capture.