Top Quotes from Marlon James

By | June 21, 2016

I’d spent seven years in an all-boys school: 2,000 adolescents in the same khaki uniforms striking hunting poses, stalking lunchrooms, classrooms, changing rooms, looking for boys who didn’t fit in.

Marlon James

There was never a single murder in my neighbourhood; there was barely a robbery. It was so suburban, it was almost disappointing.

Marlon James

I come from a very big family from every economic background. Some of the streets I talk about, I’ve actually walked on because I have family from there. Jamaica has so many contradictions.

Marlon James

We’re not big on irony in Jamaica, sarcasm and double-talk. We tend to say things plainly, sometimes to the point of boredom.

Marlon James

I’m really interested in how non-American countries process race.

Marlon James

A lot of time, I’d spell things in standard English instead of phonetically because I want people to understand what’s going on. It’s also very lyrical, and the great thing about lyrical prose is even when you’re not totally sure of the words, you can be swayed by the musicality of it.

Marlon James

I wanted a picture of Jamaica that isn’t in books, and certainly not in novels.

Marlon James

I think, for me, there’s The Book I Should Write and The Book I Wanted to Write – and they weren’t the same book. The Book I Should Write should be realistic, since I studied English Lit. It should be cultural. It should reflect where I am today. The Book I Wanted to Write would probably include flying women, magic, and all of that.

Marlon James

Some of the craziest aspects about ‘Weeper’ were the things I found out to be true. I mean, true of people.

Marlon James

My first novel, ‘John Crow’s Devil,’ freed me up to write about the past, and ‘The Book of Night Women’ freed me up to have a book totally based on voice and being very spontaneous.

Marlon James

I find the violence in PG13 movies unbearable. This kid will never run home, never have another birthday. His death is slow, nightmarish. And you have to explore the consequences – the people who live on with this death.

Marlon James

I think the Greeks were the only people ever to nail character. Their heroes are deeply flawed.

Marlon James

In 1976, Rastafarians were one of the most violated, persecuted groups in Jamaica. They could be beaten within an inch of their lives, or detained for two years, just for being found in a ‘proper’ neighbourhood.

Marlon James

The Daily Mail’ interviewed my friends in Jamaica to find out if I was ever the victim of a vicious homophobic attack because, to them, I’m a gay refugee. But nothing like that happened. So, no surprise, that story didn’t appear. I’m really pretty boring.

Marlon James

At 28 years old, seven years out of college, I was so convinced that my voice outed me as a fag that I had stopped speaking to people I didn’t know.

Marlon James

We shouldn’t romanticize rejection. There’s nothing romantic about rejection. It’s horrible.

Marlon James

Caribbean literature only has to be true to itself. It doesn’t need colonialism or imperialism. It’s always been vibrant.

Marlon James

If your depiction of loss doesn’t make the reader feel loss, then you didn’t depict it right.

Marlon James

Not every gay person recites poetry or has read Keats. You can get readers through anything if the characters are complicated. You can’t dismiss Josey Wales’ quite liberal worldview.

Marlon James

I always tell my students to complicate your characters: never make it easy for the reader. Nobody is ever one thing. That’s what makes characters compelling.

Marlon James

I grew up with reggae. Reggae is like family. I know it, and there’s a type of love and familiarity, but sometimes you want to hang out with other people.

Marlon James

I was the nerd. Because I was reading. I wasn’t into sports. I was really into art. Very geekish about comics. Assumed gay.

Marlon James

Pretty much everything I’ve written is a mix of excitement and fear.

Marlon James

The fiction writer in me likes gaps in stories because I can jump into that gap and try to suggest something.

Marlon James

If reggae comes from another country, you can have the relationship to reggae that I have to rock. But it’s something I grew up with. It’s probably something I appreciate more now. In the ’80s, I was all about New Wave and synth pop – New Order and Depeche Mode and Eurythmics and Michael Jackson and tons and tons and tons of Prince.

Marlon James

What I find, particularly with young writers and readers, is that they don’t want complicated feelings.

Marlon James

I’m happy to not know what I think about stuff; I’m happy to change my mind. But it’s relatively recently that I’ve been able to apply that to feelings. I used to like to know what I felt. I didn’t want those feelings to be complicated or muddled or clashing.

Marlon James

As a writer of colour, you have to be victim or perpetrator.

Marlon James

Because homophobia is still largely driven by the church, it’s legitimised. It’s also tied to sexism, because those two are never far apart.

Marlon James

I’m not a writer on a mission, and I’m very suspicious of writers on missions, but I’m also not living a false life.

Marlon James

In creative writing, I teach that characters arise out of our need for them.

Marlon James

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