Marlon James's A Brief History of Seven Killings fictionalizes a historical incident, the shooting of Bob Marley in Kingston in 1976, and the larger political, economic, and cultural forces that led to it and emerged from it. Real people can enter fiction and retain their names if they have already entered history or journalism—if, in other words, they are already part of a shared imagination. But there is a difference between the local Jamaican and global collective memories, a difference that determines which people keep their names and how people are remembered. People seek to enter the imagination of others, but to do so is also to risk being hollowed out and rendered imaginable, becoming a fictional character and less than a full person. But if there is only fiction, fiction also contributes to the collective memory. An awareness of the performative nature of identity and action is precisely how one can control how one is remembered and, just as important, how one eludes the imagination of others. A Brief History adds to the collective memory of readers everywhere but recognizes that Jamaicans already have their own collective memory, that they are self‐conscious about what it means to come to the attention of others, and that they have always contributed to shaping the larger collective memory, including when they do not appear in it.

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