The director of “Insecure” and Beyoncé’s “Formation” is adapting a novel about Jamaica and Bob Marley for TV

A brief history.
A brief history.
Image: AP Photo/Michael Sloley
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Amazon Studios has announced that it will produce a show based on Marlon James’ acclaimed epic novel about Kingston, A Brief History of Seven Killings.

Melina Matsoukas will direct and executive produce the series, along with James himself. Malcolm Spellman, an Empire executive producer, will be the show-runner and an executive producer, and Jill Soloway, the creator of Transparent, will also be among the executive producers. Amazon has not yet announced the release date.

A Brief History of Seven Killings won the 2015 Man Booker Prize, making James the first Jamaican writer to win the prestigious literary award. The 700-page novel starts in 1970s Kingston with an attempted assassination on the reggae superstar Bob Marley, then moves to New York and back to Jamaica again over another 20 years. It has a massive cast of more than 70 characters, packing the story with the humming thoughts of cops, gangsters, and drug lords.

The novel’s action unfolds mostly through the internal dialog of its main characters, which could prove a challenge when adapting it for TV. But the project is in the capable hands of a group of versatile and prolific creators.

Matsoukas is an executive producer and director for HBO’s Insecure, an acclaimed comedy series starring Issa Rae, and she has directed episodes for the Netflix show Master of None, starring Aziz Ansari. Before that Matsoukas was known for directing big-name music videos, including Beyoncé’s “Formation” and Rihanna’s ”We Found Love.”

“I am deeply honored to be entrusted with this tapestry of stories so entrenched in roots, reggae, race, mysticism and politics,” said Matsoukas in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter.

James previously published The Book of Night Women, a book written in the patois of Jamaican slaves at the turn of the 19th century. He’s now writing The Dark Star Trilogy, a fantasy series inspired by African myths, due out late 2018.