"Imagination Needs Knowledge"

“Wussy” European vampires. African folklore and mythology, and how they help establish that “homophobia is not African.” How reading Jackie Collins and Leon Uris during childhood fosters a lifelong passion for books. The structuring of an immersive, propulsive fantasy trilogy. This week on Book Dreams, Eve and Julie discuss all of this and so much more with Marlon James, the powerhouse author of A Brief History of Seven Killings, which won the 2015 Man Booker Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Marlon talks about his new novel, Moon Witch, Spider King, the follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction in 2019. Marlon shares with Julie and Eve how certain experiences in his own life have shown up in his work, and he previews “Get Millie Black,” the crime drama he is writing and producing for HBO, which his mother “will say is inspired by her, because she is a detective. It’s not. Please stop that, mother.”


Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 1970. In addition to A Brief History of Seven Killings and the first two books of the “Dark Star” trilogy–Black Leopard, Red Wolf and Moon Witch, Spider King–he is also the author of The Book of Night Women, which won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Minnesota Book Award and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction and an NAACP Image Award. His first novel John Crow’s Devil was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction and the Commonwealth Writers Prize and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Marlon is the co-host of the podcast “Marlon and Jake Read Dead People,” where he and his editor, Jake Morrissey, discuss the classics.




Moon Witch, Spider King


*An Instant New York Times Bestseller*


“In the second book of his Dark Star trilogy, James coaxes beauty from dark thoughts, leaving readers with a concaved, mystical and African-inspired world that begins in free-fall. . . .In a world as thoroughly imagined as J.R.R. Tolkien’s, no detail seems spared. Full figured and richly drawn, Moon Witch, Spider King is the bridge of a trilogy and also a creation that, like James’ talent, stands alone.” Los Angeles Times


“James’s imagination is vast and fiery, and his numerous fight scenes are heart-pumping and vivid. But what has stayed with me are his more subtle observations on the human condition. . . .The Moon Witch lit my path and showed me how a woman might navigate this dangerous, remarkable world. . . .When I finished the last page of Moon Witch, Spider King, I found my copy of Black Leopard, Red Wolf and started at the beginning.” The New York Times Book Review


Go Deeper


Marlon James

Moon Witch, Spider King, by Marlon James

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James

A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James

The Book of Night Women, by Marlon James

John Crow’s Devil, by Marlon James

Get Millie Black (HBO)

Marlon and Jake Read Dead People (podcast)

Jake Morrissey

Citizen, by Claudia Rankine

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, by Jeanette Winterson

Passing, by Nella Larsen

The Cement Garden, Ian McEwan

Eve Yohalem

Julie Sternberg

Book Dreams Podcast

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