Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James' next project? An epic fantasy series

Marlon JamesPhoto: Jeffrey Skemp

Marlon James is following up his 2015 Man Booker Prize-winning novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, with a three-part fantasy series titled The Dark Star Trilogy, he announced in Entertainment Weekly.

"The very, very basic plot is this slave trader hires a bunch of mercenaries to track down a kid who may have been kidnapped. But finding him takes nine years, and at the end of it, the kid is dead," said James in an interview with the magazine. "And the whole novel is trying to figure out, 'How did this happen?'"

In 2015, James became the first Jamaican-born writer to win the Man Booker Prize. His winning novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, is an epic that spans 30 years and a dozen narrative voices, revolving around an attempted assassination of singer Bob Marley.

James admitted to Entertainment Weekly that he's a big fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and English author Angela Carter. He said his new series, which will consist of the books Black Leopard, Red Wolf; Moon Witch, Night Devil; and The Boy and the Dark Star, came from an argument about the lack of diversity in the The Hobbit film cast.

"I remember saying, 'You know, if an Asian or a black hobbit came out of the Shire, nobody would have cared. We would have just moved on.' And my friend said, 'Well, Lord of the Rings is all this British and Celtic mythology'... It just turned into one of these arguments we have about diversity and inclusion," James explained to Entertainment Weekly.

"It made me realize that there was this huge universe of African history and mythology and crazy stories, these fantastic beasts and so on, that was just waiting there."

James has been vocal about issues of diversity, speaking to CBC's q about the rich complexities it presents in the art community and writing an article on LitHub titled "Why I'm Done Talking About Diversity."

The author, who now lives in Minneapolis, said his new series is a marriage of his love of sci-fi and the fantastic myths and stories he grew up listening to.

He added that he hoped readers as young as 12 would enjoy reading the series.

His publisher, Riverhead Books, announced the series would begin in the fall of 2018.

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