ICON MANN SYLLABUS: BOOKS WE LOVE

 

MARLON JAMES | A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS

The first Jamaican to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize for literary fiction, and he did so skillfully crafting a narrative around 15 prominent characters in the assassination attempt on the iconic Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley. MARLON JAMES penned A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS, a tour du force that shows the reverberating power of connectivity as it exits the late 70's rum-soaked coasts of Kingston to an expanse reaching the crack wars of 1980's New York City.

James a literature professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota is a great example of what passion and focus can do when applied to ones own talent. His debut novel, JOHN CROW'S DEVIL was rejected 70 times before ultimately finding a publisher. If a prize was given for perseverance then James would to be awarded for great measure.

 

JAMES BALDWIN I THE FIRE NEXT TIME

There is indeed great power in the written word; especially that of a novelist and essayist whose observation of the world is at once intimate, confrontational, reactionary, and revered. JAMES 'JIMMY' BALDWIN possessed all and so much more as he wrote of the plight of black Americans and the saving power of brotherhood. As a black child born in 1924's Harlem NYC he encountered a world that seemed to have specific ideas about his place in it based solely upon rich melanin of his skin -with no consideration for his potential- so like many have done before him and after him, James sought refuge in the church. “Those three years in the pulpit – I didn’t realize it then – that is what turned me into a writer, really, dealing with all that anguish and that despair and that beauty,” said Baldwin. A fascinating dissection that would be his life's work spanning more than forty years of literary distinction. 

About two years ago while in New York I made my way to Argosy, a rare and vintage book store on the Upper East. Whilst there I found a number of first edition Baldwins that demanded purchase. Among them was THE FIRE NEXT TIME originally penned in 1963. It was at once a passionate and deeply personal love letter to his nephew, in the form of a scathing essay on the plight of the Black male experience in America. If that brings to mind a more recent plume of undeniable measure, Ta-Nehisi Coates' BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME, it is for good and astute cause. Both were written out of a father's love in effort to educate a young Black man on the world he was inheriting. Both were written with such uncomfortable honesty that they should be read multiple times, gifted to many, and discussed to great expanse. For his efforts TIME Magazine placed James on its cover. For his efforts where you place him? If you have not read, ever or recently, then be encouraged to read THE FIRE NEXT TIME now. For who we are, where we are, and the potential there of is listed within if you are brave enough to think about the condition.