A Brief History of Seven Killings

A Brief History of Seven Killings

by

Marlon James

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on A Brief History of Seven Killings can help.

A Brief History of Seven Killings Characters

Sir Arthur George Jennings

Sir Arthur Jennings, sometimes nicknamed Artie, is a former politician who was murdered by being pushed off a balcony at the Sunset Beach Hotel in Montego Bay. He is already dead at the beginning of… (read full character analysis)

The Singer

The Singer, who is described in the Cast of Characters as “the Reggae superstar of the world,” is based on Bob Marley. However, he is only referred to as Bob Marley once in the novel… (read full character analysis)

Peter Nasser

Peter Nasser is a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) politician who collaborates with Josey Wales in planning the shooting at the Singer’s house. In the 1980 election, the JLP are victorious and Nasser becomes Prime… (read full character analysis)

Nina Burgess

Nina is a young woman from Havendale, an affluent neighborhood in Kingston. She is light-skinned and well-educated, yet despite these privileges she feels that she has no future in Jamaica and is desperate to move… (read full character analysis)

Kim-Marie Burgess

Kim-Marie, known as Kimmy, is Nina’s sister. The two have a difficult relationship, colored by competitiveness and betrayal. Kimmy begins dating Ras Trent, a Rasta whose father is the Jamaican Minister of Tourism, however… (read full character analysis)
Get the entire A Brief History of Seven Killings LitChart as a printable PDF.

Nina’s Mother

Nina’s and Kimmy’s mother is a rather uptight woman who lives in Havendale with her husband. When the novel begins, her house has been robbed and she may have been raped. She is… (read full character analysis)

Doctor Love (Luis Hernán Rodrigo de las Casas)

Doctor Love is a counterrevolutionary Cuban employed as a CIA consultant. He specializes in explosions, planting bombs on airplanes and in the Kingston ghetto. Aside from his strong opposition to the Cuban regime, Doctor Love… (read full character analysis)

Alex Pierce

Alex is a white American journalist who at the beginning of the novel is on assignment for Rolling Stone magazine, writing an article about Mick Jagger’s exploits in Jamaica. However, Alex quickly becomes convinced… (read full character analysis)

Louis Johnson

Louis Johnson is a field officer for the CIA hired by Barry Diflorio. Barry notes that Louis and Doctor Love come as a “package deal.” The CIA uses him to “maintain the links with… (read full character analysis)

Papa-Lo

Papa-Lo, whose given name is Raymond Clarke, is the don of Copenhagen City when the book begins, having been in this role since 1960. Both feared and beloved by the people, he is credited with… (read full character analysis)

Josey Wales

Josey Wales begins the novel as Papa-Lo’s head enforcer, his right-hand man in running Copenhagen City. However, Josey––who is highly intelligent, cynical, and dishonest––is secretly plotting to kill the Singer behind Papa-Lo’s back. Josey’s decision… (read full character analysis)

Weeper

Weeper is a gang enforcer in Copenhagen City who works with Josey in planning and carrying out the attack on the Singer’s house. Highly intelligent and well-educated, Weeper is an atheist who enjoys reading… (read full character analysis)

Demus

Demus is a young Rastafarian gang member recruited by Josey to assist in the shooting at the Singer’s house. He is initially horrified at the prospect of shooting the Singer, convinced that this… (read full character analysis)

Heckle

Heckle is another of the gunmen Josey recruits for the shooting at the Singer’s house. He is the only one of these recruits to survive the shooting, and afterward he admits his involvement and… (read full character analysis)

Bam-Bam

Bam-Bam is a teenager born in the Eight Lanes. When he was a child, Funnyboy and his gang orally raped Bam-Bam’s father before killing both of Bam-Bam’s parents in front of him. After this point… (read full character analysis)

Tony Pavarotti

Tony Pavarotti is an enforcer and sniper known as the most merciless killer in Jamaica. He is rumored to have been trained at the School of the Americas, an American Defense institute that provides military… (read full character analysis)

Shotta Sherrif

Shotta Sherrif is the don of the Eight Lanes and Papa-Lo’s rival. Like Papa-Lo, he is close friends with the Singer and begins to feel sympathetic to the Singer’s project of unity and peace. While… (read full character analysis)

Kim Clarke

Kim Clarke is the first of Nina’s alter-egos. She lives in Montego Bay with her boyfriend, Chuck, whom she compels herself to love even though he also deeply irritates her. Kim is desperate to… (read full character analysis)

Chuck

Chuck is a white American from Arkansas, temporarily stationed in Jamaica by the company he works for, Alcorp Bauxite. He lives with Kim in Montego Bay, but is secretly married to a black American woman… (read full character analysis)

Eubie

Eubie is the head enforcer of the Storm Posse in New York. Highly intelligent, he grew up in an affluent suburb in Kingston and went to private school. In New York, he even began studying… (read full character analysis)

Tristan Phillips

Tristan is a Rasta imprisoned in Rikers Island prison and interviewed by Alex while serving his sentence. Born in Balaclava, a since-destroyed slum in Kingston, he refers to himself as half-black, half-“coolie” and makes jokes… (read full character analysis)

John-John K

John-John is a professional hitman employed by Eubie (via Griselda Blanco) to kill Weeper. A gay man, John-John is in love with a man back in Chicago named Rocky, although their relationship… (read full character analysis)

Griselda Blanco

Griselda is a Colombian drug lord who lives in Miami and transports cocaine for the Medellín cartel. There are rumors that she is a lesbian, and that she has sex with go-go dancers before killing… (read full character analysis)

Ken Colhirst

Ken Colhirst is a wealthy and handsome older white man who lives in Manhattan. He suffers from amnesia, and his son employs Dorcas Palmer to take care of him. He and Dorcas get along well… (read full character analysis)

Dorcas Palmer

Dorcas Palmer is the second of Nina’s false identities. She lives in the Bronx and takes a series of temporary care work positions through the God Bless Employment Agency. She finds Ken attractive, and on… (read full character analysis)

Millicent Segree

Millicent is the third and final fake identity assumed by Nina. A trainee nurse at Beth Israel hospital, Millicent attempts to conceal the fact that she is Jamaican. However, when a significant number of… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Nina’s Father
When the novel begins, Nina’s father is traumatized by the robbery that took place at his house. After learning that she slept with the Singer he beats Nina, although Nina grabs the belt and begins hitting him instead.
Ras Trent
Ras Trent is a wealthy Rasta whose father is the Jamaican Minister of Tourism. He dates Kimmy and, according to Nina, has a sexist attitude toward women.
Barry Diflorio
Barry is a Yale-educated CIA station chief living in Jamaica with his family. Barry takes pride in his work and is furious when Bill Adler undoes his progress in Jamaica and when his wife, Claire, accuses him of being bad at his job. He is eventually relocated to Argentina.
Claire Diflorio
Claire is Barry’s wife. She hates Jamaica and is thrilled when the family is re-stationed to Buenos Aires.
William Adler
William (Bill) Adler is a former field officer for the CIA stationed in Jamaica. Troubled by a guilty conscience, he went rogue in 1969 and wrote a book exposing the operations of the CIA in Latin America.
Mark Lansing
The son of Richard Lansing, the former Director the CIA, Mark goes to Jamaica in order to make a film about the Singer. Perceived as a clueless rich kid, he is treated as an annoyance by the other characters, particularly Alex.
Mr. Clark
Mr. Clark, another CIA field officer, arrives in Jamaica in 1978, replacing Louis Johnson. Like Louis, he is close with Doctor Love.
Bill Bilson
Bill Bilson is a Jamaican journalist who works for the Jamaica Gleaner.
Winifred
Winifred is Josey Wales’ girlfriend. Although they never officially get married, Josey remains faithful to her throughout the novel.
Benjy Wales
Benjy is Josey’s son. After his father is imprisoned, he takes over as don of Copenhagen City. However, he naively travels through Kingston without protection, and ends up being shot and killed. This provokes an outburst of violence throughout Jamaica and New York.
Bam-Bam’s Mother
Bam-Bam’s mother is a sex worker. She is killed by Funnyboy, who also kills her husband.
Bam-Bam’s Father
Bam-Bam’s father is described as “the last good man in the ghetto,” although he beats his wife. When Bam-Bam’s mother calls Funnyboy to back her up, Funnyboy orally rapes Bam-Bam’s father and then shoots him in the head.
Funky Chicken
Funky Chicken is another one of the gunmen recruited by Josey for the attack on the Singer’s house. We learn nothing about him except that he is a heroin user.
Leggo Beast
Leggo Beast is captured by Papa-Lo during the time that Papa-Lo is trying to round up all the gunmen involved in the shooting at the Singer’s house. He admits guilt, but claims he was “brainwashed” by Josey Wales and the CIA. Papa-Lo kills him as punishment.
Priest
Priest is a resident of the Kingston ghetto who works as Alex’s informer. He is not taken seriously, as there are rumors that he shot off his own penis with a gun.
Junior Soul
Junior Soul is a teenage member of Wang Gang whom Alex interviews, and who tells him about the conflict between Wang Gang and the Jamaican army.
Funnyboy
Funnyboy is the second-in-command of Shotta Sherrif in the Eight Lanes. He is known for forcing men to perform sexual acts on him before killing them, which is what he’s done to Bam-Bam’s father.
Richard Lansing
Richard is the former Director of the CIA and Mark Lansing’s father.
A-Plus
A-Plus is an old friend of Tristan’s who lives in Miami.
Ren-Dog
Ren-Dog is an enforcer for the Storm Posse in New York. He tortures Alex alongside Eubie.
Romeo
Romeo is a young boy employed by the Storm Posse in Bushwick. He initially works as a spotter, but is promoted to runner by Weeper when Weeper realizes that most of the other dealers have disappeared. Josey Wales takes a liking to Romeo, admiring his cheeky courage.
Rocky
Rocky is John-John’s lover. He lives in Chicago.
Mr. Colhirst
Mr. Colhirst is Ken’s son.
Ms. Colhirst
Ms. Colhirst is Ken’s daughter-in-law. She treats Ken dismissively and is rude to Dorcas.
Michael Manley
A Jamaican politician and prime minister. He is a deomcratic socialist.
Aisha
A Jamaican woman who sleeps with Alex at one point in the novel.
Rita
The Singer's wife.
The manager
The Singer's manager. He gets shot on the day of the attack at the Singer's house.