Award-Winning Novelist on Growing Up Gay in Jamaica

Living as a closeted gay man in Jamaica drove novelist Marlon James to such despair that he once wrote he knew he had to leave "in a plane or a coffin."

Marlon James - 2014

He left, on a plane for the United States, seemingly confirming Time magazine’s 2006 headline that the Caribbean island was “The Most Homophobic Place on Earth.”

Back for the Calabash International Literary Festival, which features poets, novelists and writers from across the globe, the 2015 Man Booker Prize winner said his own story was actually more complicated.

“The thing about Jamaica, for such a small country, is that there are 10 different Jamaica‘s and the one you live in is not necessarily the one that everyone else lives in,” said James, 45.


Photo Larry D. Moore [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons