The amazing thing is that he kept count. Newly tapped Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James admitted in an interview with BBC Radio that his first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was rejected 78 times by publishers. It was finally published in 2005 by Akashic Books. The New York Times wrote of his debut: “Writing with assurance and control, James uses his small-town drama to suggest the larger anguish of a postcolonial society struggling for its own identity.” That is pretty much what the Booker Prize committee said a decade later in awarding James the prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings: A Novel — a book that still has fewer than 200 reviews on Amazon.
It was four more years after his debut before James published his second novel, The Book of Night Women. But there was far less rejection involved. Riverhead Books brought out Night Women in hardcover.