Is a deeply flawed hero believable in fantasy fiction? At the Jean Cocteau Cinema this coming week, Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James is interviewed by author George R.R. Martin, whose Song of Ice and Fire series of novels is the source material for the Game of Thrones television series. In recent interviews, James has explained the connections between fantasy and science fiction and the genre of literary fiction. Central to the conversation at the Cocteau will be the African fantasy epic Black Leopard, Red Wolf (Riverhead), James’ fourth book and the first installment of the Dark Star Trilogy, where each novel in the series will tell the same story from a different perspective.
The novel, which is 640 pages, falls within both fantasy and science-fiction genres. It has drawn praise from Neil Gaiman, Victor LaValle, and Jeff VanderMeer, all of whom practice what is often termed “serious” sci-fi and fantasy fiction. While writing Black Leopard, Red Wolf, James told a reporter the book is essentially an “African Game of Thrones,” complete with royals at war, bloody battles, and deadly beasts. James has said he admires GRRM’s choice to turn such subjects into acceptable matter for adult works of imagination. James’ novel also draws from African history and mythology and Caribbean folklore.
Born in Jamaica, James is a professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and divides his time between there and New York. — P.L.
Marlon James talks to George R.R. Martin and takes audience questions at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10, followed by a book signing in the lobby of the Jean Cocteau Cinema (418 Montezuma Ave.). Tickets are $30 and include a copy of the book. For the author conversation only, tickets are $10. For more information, visit jeancocteaucinema.com.