What’s in your bag, Marlon James?

When Jamaican novelist Marlon James walks into a room, you know it. It’s not that he’s particularly dominating or otherwise physically intimidating — although he is more than six feet tall — it’s that he has the thing casting agents call “presence.” He’s there there. That translates to his books, too: his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings was released in 2014 to rapturous reviews, and it won the prestigious Man Booker prize. His latest book Black Leopard, Red Wolf is out this month. It’s the first entry in James’ Dark Star trilogy, which he’s described as an “African Game of Thrones,” an epic populated with characters who aren’t usually seen in more European books.

“It was really very simple!” James says. “I was trying to write a…

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