Transcript: Marlon James: Finding Inspiration in African Mythology | Jun 27, 2019

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a red blazer over a black shirt.

A caption on screen reads "Finding inspiration in African mythology. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says IN 2015, MARLON JAMES
WON THE COVETED MAN BOOKER AWARD
FOR HIS NOVEL "A BRIEF HISTORY
OF SEVEN KILLINGS." HE IS BACK
WITH A STRIKING, FANTASTIC EPIC,
THE FIRST OF A PROJECTED TRILOGY
THAT DRAWS ON AFRICAN MYTHOLOGY
AND HISTORY.
IT'S CALLED "BLACK LEOPARD, RED
WOLF."
AND BRINGS MARLON JAMES BACK TO
THE STUDIO TONIGHT.

Marlon is in his forties, with long dreadlocks in a bun and a beard. He's wearing a black suit and a printed blue shirt.
A picture his book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a colourful drawing of two interwoven wolf faces.

Nam continues NICE TO MEET YOU.

Marlon says NICE TO MEET YOU.

Nam says KIND OF NERDING OUT THAT
YOU ARE SITTING HERE.
"A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN
KILLINGS" WAS BASED ON TRUE
EVENTS BUT THIS BOOK IS BASED IN
A MYTHICAL WORLD.
WHY DID YOU TELL THE STORY
THROUGH A FANTASTICAL LENS?

The caption changes to "Marlon James. Author, 'Black leopard, red wolf.'"
Then, it changes again to "Tracker and the shape-shifter."

Marlon says I THINK I WAS ALWAYS
INCHING TOWARD THAT.
FOR ME IT'S NOT SO MUCH A
MYTHICAL STORY AS IT IS A
RECLAIMING MIX.
IT'S ONE THING GROWING UP TAKING
IT FOR GRANTED IT'S ANOTHER
THING WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE IT.
FOR ME IT JUST ALWAYS FELT FOR
ME THAT I WAS GOING TO END UP
HERE SOONER OR LATER.
I MADE THIS ANALOGY THAT SOONER
OR LATER YOU'VE GOT TO GET TO
THE BLUES.
I THINK IF I'M GOING TO CONTINUE
WRITING FICTION.
PARTICULARLY EDITING
FANTASTICAL, I THINK I WOULD
HAVE TO GO BACK TO IMAGINED
HISTORIES THAT I DIDN'T HAVE.

Nam says IS THAT WHERE YOU FEEL
MOST COMFORTABLE?

The caption changes to "Marlon James, @MarlonJames5."

Marlon says INITIALLY, NO.
BECAUSE WOMEN' STILL A WESTERN
PERSON.
I GREW UP IN THE WESTERN MIX AND
I GREW UP WITH CHRISTIANITY AND
SO ON.
SO IT WAS AS MUCH AN EDUCATION
FOR ME AS IT WOULD HAVE BEEN
FOR, I GUESS ANYBODY ELSE.
BUT, YEAH, I JUST... TO ME IT
FEELS LIKE AN INEVITABLE
DIRECTION SO MUCH AS A CHANGE OF
FOCUS.

Nam says YOU DID A SHORT STORE
ALONG TIME AGO AND IT WAS BASED
IN A MYTHICAL WORLD WASN'T IT?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Marlon says I CAN'T REMEMBER
WHICH ONE THAT WAS.
I ALWAYS HAVE A BAD MEMORY OF MY
SHORT STORIES.
I PROBABLY DID THAT TO TRY IT ON
FOR SIZE BUT NOT REALLY DELVING
DEEP.
WHEREAS WITH THIS BOOK I WANTED
TO ALMOST GET LOST IN IT.

Nam says DID YOU GET LOST IN IT?

Marlon says I GOT LOST SEVERAL
TIMES AND I HOPE THAT ADRIFTNESS
COMES OVER TO THE REARED.
BECAUSE I THINK YOU SHOULD BE
SORT OF OVERWHELMED A LITTLE
BIT.
I MEAN THE CURRENT WILL COME
BACK FOR YOU.
BUT THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH,
YOU KNOW, PADDLING AND, YOU
KNOW, SORT OF BEING ABLE TO
DRIFT FOR A LITTLE BIT.

Nam says WHEN YOU SAY
"OVERWHELMED" WHAT DO YOU MEAN
BY THE CONTENT OR THE CHARACTERS?

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

Marlon says WELL, EVERYTHING.
ONE OF THE THINGS I FOUND DOING
THE RESEARCH WAS HOW COMPLEX AND
MULTILAYERED THESE STORIES WERE.
AND HOW IF IT'S AN AFRICAN FOLK
TALE CHANCES ARE THE TRICKSTER
IS TELLING IT.
SO YOU'VE STOOD UP TO VIEW...
LIKE THIS MAY BE AN UNRELIABLE
NARRATOR.
AND IT STRUCK ME WHERE THERE WAS
A TIME WHEN THE LISTENER HAD TO
DO ALL THIS WORK WITH A STORY
THAT WE THE READERS DON'T WANT
TO DO ANY MORE.
SOME PEOPLE SAY IT'S
CHALLENGING, DIFFICULT OR
CONFUSED.
AND I'M LIKE YEAH, BUT THERE
WERE PEOPLE WHO BEFORE ONLY
LISTENED TO STORIES AND THEY HAD
TO SNAP INTO IT AND FIGURE IT
OUT AND DO SOME DETECTIVE WORK.
AND I REALLY WANTED TO GET BACK
TO THAT.
IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME THAT
IT FEELS LIKE IT COULD BE READ ALOUD.

Nam says IT'S APP LET'S TALK
ABOUT THE BOOK FOR A SECOND.
THE STORY IS TOLD FROM THE
PERSPECTIVE OF A CHARACTER NAMED
TRACKER.
WHO HAS A FAMOUS NOSE.
WHAT MOTIVATES TRACKER?

Marlon says WHAT MOTIVATES TRACKER?
HE DOESN'T KNOW.
HE MOVES FROM TOWN TO TOWN AND
CITY TO CITY AND BED TO BED.
AND HE DOESN'T REALLY KNOW.
IT KIND OF BLIND SIDES HIM WHEN
HE COMES ACROSS THE THINGS THAT
ARE REALLY IMPORTANT.
AND THAT HE NEEDS IT.
AND EVEN WHEN HE IS SURROUNDED
BY THINGS HE NEVER KNEW HE
WANTED, HE IS STILL KIND OF THE
GRUMPY ONE IN THE FAMILY.

Nam says HE IS REALLY FUNNY, TOO.

Marlon says YEAH, HE WAS A LOT OF
FUN TO WRITE.
HE LIKE MOST OF MY CHARACTERS
START IN THE MARGINS AND THEN
ANNOUNCE THEMSELVES AND WON'T BE
DENIED AND NEXT THING I KNOW THE
NOVEL IS ABOUT THEM.

Nam says IT'S KIND OF GOOD THAT
TRACKER HAS THE SKILL TO PROTECT
HIMSELF BECAUSE HE HAS A FEISTY MOUTH.

Marlon says YEAH, AND MY MOUTH
HAS GOTTEN ME INTO TROUBLE, TOO.

[LAUGHTER]

Nam says TRACKER GOES ON A QUEST
AND HE IS JOINED BY A SHAPE
SHIFTING INDIVIDUAL CALLED
LEOPARD.
ANY SIGNIFICANCE BEHIND CREATING
A CHARACTER THAT CHANGES FORM?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live."

Marlon says NOT A SIGNIFICANCE.
ONE, I WAS VERY FASCINATED AT
ALL THE WARE CREATURES.
HERE THEY ARE PRETTY MUCH
CANINE, WEREWOLVES.
BUT THE SHAPE SHIFTER IS SUCH A
CRUCIAL PART OF AFRICAN
MYTHOLOGY.
EVEN STORIES ABOUT SPIDER AND
MAN.
AND THAT WHOLE IDEA OF IDENTITY
SHIFTING PLAYS IN WELL WHEN WE
START TO TALK ABOUT
TRANSPORTATION SHIFTING OR
BODIES TRANSFORMING THAT ALL
THESE THINGS THAT ARE HOT BUTTON
ISSUES NOW ARE THINGS THAT THE
AFRICAN STORIES RESOLVED
THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO.

Nam says EVEN THE LANGUAGE LIKE
THE PRONOUNCES.

Marlon says YEAH, THEY RESOLVE
THAT HAD YEARS AGO.
I WAS TALKING TO AN AUDIENCE
LAST NIGHT.
I SAID TO JAMAICANS WE NEVER
NEEDED HELP TO USE "THEM."
WE CALL SINGLE PEOPLE THEM.
PEOPLE THINK I'M SO PROGRESSIVE
BUT NO IT'S JUST THE JAMAICAN
ACCENT.

Nam says I AM A BIT OF A BOOK
NERD SO WHEN I READ A BOOK I GO
TO THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT SECTION.
TO SEE WHAT THE WRITER IS
THINKING.
YOU WROTE YOUR MOTHER IS ONLY
ALLOWED TO READ TWO PAGES OF IN
BOOK.
WHY IS THAT?

Marlon says IN ALL OF MY BOOKS
THERE IS A GAG IN ALL OF THEM
ABOUT WHAT MY MOTHER IS ALLOWED
TO READ.
THE FIRST ONE SAID TO MY MOTHER
WHO SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO
READ THIS BOOK.
THERE ARE SOME INTIMATE GOINGS
ON.
MY MOM IS A DEVOUT CHURCH LADY.

The caption changes to "Is this just fantasy?"

Nam says AND THE GOINGS ON IS
BETWEEN MEN.
WHAT STRUCK ME ABOUT THIS BOOK
IS IT WAS VERY CASUAL ABOUT IT.
IT WASN'T OUT OF THE ORDINARY.

Marlon says YEAH, BUT AFRICA HAS
THIS... SOME COUNTRIES IN AFRICA
HAVE THIS REPUTATION FOR
HOMOPHOBIA WHICH I THOUGHT WAS
REALLY INTERESTING.
BECAUSE NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THE
ROLE OF THE AMERICAN EVANGELICAL
CHURCH PLAYS IN THAT.
FROM THE RESEARCH I FOUND THINGS
LIKE QUEERNESS, GAYNESS AND
STUFF WAS STUFF THAT WAS ALREADY
ACCEPTED AND ABSORBED INTO ALL
THESE VARIOUS AFRICAN SOCIETIES
FROM BEFORE WHICH IS VERY
SHOCKING AND AFFIRMING TO HEAR.

Nam says WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU
TO FIND THAT OUT AS A GAY MAN?

Marlon says WELL, IT MEANT THAT
FAR FROM WHAT I'VE BEEN TOLD
THAT IT'S SORT OF AN ABERRATION
OR EVEN SOMETHING... SOME
DISEASE THAT WE GOT INFECTED
WITH BY THE EUROPEANS THAT, YOU
KNOW, QUEERNESS, OTHERNESS,
TRANS-NESS HAS ALWAYS BEEN PART
OF SO MUCH OF THE AFRICAN
FRAMEWORK.
YOU KNOW, WHERE WE TALK ABOUT
WARRIORS WHO WERE... THE
WARRIORS WHO WERE TRUSTED WITH
BRIDES TO BE BECAUSE EVERYBODY
KNEW THEY WERE GAY SO NOTHING
WAS GOING TO HAPPEN.
THAT SOCIETY IS... IT'S NOT TO
SAY THAT SOCIETIES WERE LIKE
WHOLLY ACCEPTING QUEERNESS AND
SO ON.
BUT THEY REALIZED THE ROLE THOSE
PEOPLE PLAYED.
AND FOR ME TO REALIZE THAT, TO
GO, I DIDN'T EXPECT TO GO TO THE
PAST TO FIND VALIDATION.
I THOUGHT IN THE PRESENT AND
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE.
MAYBE THERE WILL BE LESS
HOMOPHOBIC THERE.
BLAH BLAH BLAH.
BUT TO FIND OUT WE WERE LESS
BEFORE IS AFFIRMING.

Nam says IT'S AFFIRMING.

Marlon says IT'S AFFIRMING.

Nam says WITH THAT BEING SAID
THERE IS STILL HOMOPHOBIA.
THERE ARE STILL PEOPLE IN THE
BOOK WHO ARE EX COMMUNICATED
FROM THEIR FAMILIES BECAUSE
THEY'RE GAY.

Marlon says MM-HMM, YEAH.

Nam says WHY HAVE THAT.
IF THIS IS A WORLD THAT YOU ARE
IMAGINING AN CREATING.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Marlon says BECAUSE HATE IS OLD,
TOO, AND PREJUDICES OLD, TOO.
AND I DIDN'T WANT TO MAKE AN
ERROR IN EITHER WAY SAYING
EVERYTHING WAS ALL, EVERYTHING
WAS FANTASTIC.
BUT I THINK WHAT WASN'T THERE IS
THIS SORT OF STATE SIDE OR
RELIGION ENDORSEMENT OF HATE.

Nam says RELIGION DOES COME UP
WITH A LITTLE BIT.
THE CHARACTERS HAVE A THING
WHERE THEY SAY "F" THE GODS AND
IT GOES THROUGH WHEN YOU'RE
WRITING SOMETHING, IS THIS
SOMETHING THAT YOU'RE STRUGGLING
WITH, TOO?

Marlon says IN A WAY SOMETIMES.
I THINK WHEN THE THING THAT
TRACKER PROBABLY SAYS MOST LIKE
ME IS WHEN HE SAYS I DECENT
BELIEVE IN BELIEF.
THAT IS WHAT I'M STRUGGLING WITH
NOT NECESSARILY RELIGION BUT A
NEED FOR IT.

Nam says WHAT DOES THAT MEAN, I
DON'T BELIEVE IN BELIEF.

Marlon says I DON'T BELIEVE IN
BELIEF.
TO HAVE BELIEF AS A SYSTEM, TO
HAVE FAITH AS A SYSTEM AS
OPPOSED TO KNOWLEDGE OR
CERTAINTY AND SO ON.
TO PUT TRUST IN OTHER THINGS.
AND INSTITUTIONS AT THE EXPENSE
OF YOUR OWN INTELLIGENCE OR
COMMON SENSE.
I'M NOT SAYING THESE ARE BAD
THINGS.
BUT I AM SAYING THAT I AM IN
A... I PERSONALLY KNOW THAT I AM
IN A SORT OF PERMANENT LIMBO
WITH ALL OF THAT.
I DON'T THINK I WOULD EVER CALL
MYSELF AN ATHEIST I'M WAY TOO
COWARDLY FOR THAT.

Nam says WHAT WOULD THAT MEAN
COMING FROM A MOTHER WHO IS A
DEVOUT BELIEVER.

Marlon says SHE ALSO BECAME A
DEVOUT BELIEVER IN HER LATER
YEARS.
I ALSO CAME OUT OF THAT.
I JOINED CHURCH PRETTY LATE.
I JOINED CHURCH IN MY LATE
20S.

Nam says DID YOU JOIN CHURCH
BECAUSE YOU WERE TRYING TO RUN
AWAY FROM WHO YOU KNEW TO BE
YOU?

Marlon says I FOUND MORE THAN
THAT IN CHURCH.
DID I FIND COMMUNITY AND THERE
ARE THINGS ABOUT CHURCH WHICH I
THINK PEOPLE NEED TO RECOGNIZE.
IN A LOT OF COMMUNITIES ALL OVER
THE WORLD, CHURCH IS THE GLUE
THAT HOLDS IT TOGETHER.
BUT I HAD BIGGER QUESTIONS.
AND ESPECIALLY IN A CHURCH THAT
WAS VERY UNINTELLECTUAL.
THE WHOLE IDEA OF QUESTIONS IS
JUST ANATHEMA. AND I'M JUST
NOT... I'M NOT CRAZY ABOUT
DOGMA. AND I'M NOT CRAZY
ABOUT ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM.

Nam says YOU WANT TO ASK
QUESTIONS.

Marlon says I WANT TO ASK
QUESTIONS.
THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE ANSWERED
BUT I THINK WE SHOULD AT LEAST
CONSIDER THEM.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Nam says I WANT TO READ A PASSAGE... IT'S WEIRD WITH YOU SITTING
BESIDE ME BUT THIS IS THE VOICE
OF TRACKER...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Seeking vengeance." The quote reads "The spirit in the upper branches of this tree was my father talking to me. Telling me to kill for my own brother. And the village knew. They came to my uncle's house to ask. The old women sent word with the children, When will you avenge your brother? The old boys asked me as they taught me to fish, When will you avenge your brother? Each time someone asked the question, the question had new life. After years of wanting to be nothing like my father, I now wanted to be him. Except he was my grandfather; I wanted to be like my grandfather. My grandmother had gone mad from her need for revenge."
Quoted from Marlon James, "Black Leopard, Red Wolf." 2019.

Nam says WHY IS VENGEANCE A MAJOR THEME
IN THIS BOOK?

Marlon says WELL, ONE WAS SOME OF
THE RESEARCH I WAS DOING IN
OMAHA VALLEY AND HOW MANY OF THE
TRIBES WILL ARE STILL VERY MUCH
INVOLVED IN BLOOD FEUDS AND HOW
THAT CLASHES WITH SO MANY MEN,
PARTICULARLY IN THESE VILLAGES
THAT WANT TO SORT OF MOVE ON.
THEY WANT TO EMBRACE THE 21ST
CENTURY.
BUT THEME GET A CALL OR A
MESSAGE OR A LETTER.
YOU KNOW, YOUR BROTHER WAS
KILLED BY SUCH AND SUCH.
THERE NEEDS TO BE AVENGED.
AND EXTRA TRUCK STRUCK ME THAT
THE IDEA OF THAT THE IDEA OF
VENGEANCE HASN'T EVOLVED INTO
JUSTICE.
THAT'S SOMETHING THAT FASCINATED
ME.
IT'S SOMETHING I STILL THINK
ABOUT.
AND I RUN INTO IT.
READING HISTORY OF EVERYWHERE.
READING HISTORY OF AMERICA OR
EVEN IN JAMAICA THAT THERE IS
STILL... THERE'S STILL THIS
THING WHERE VENGEANCE AND
JUSTICE ARE STILL CONSIDERED
LINKED.
AND I WANTED TO EXPLORE THAT.
ALSO WANTED TO SEE WHERE THAT
GOES.
ULTIMATELY IT REALLY DOESN'T GO
ANYWHERE.

Nam says THAT SOUNDS KIND OF, YOU
KNOW, DEFLATING.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Marlon says YEAH.
A MISSION OF VENGEANCE.
THERE IS ALSO A THING THAT
TRACKER SAYS NEAR THE END IS ALL
THAT HE CAN SEE IS WASTE.
THAT ALL THE POTENTIAL, ALL THE
LIONS, ALL THE BEAUTY THAT WE'VE
LOST.
BECAUSE OF THIS.
AND RIGHT NOW ALL I SEE IS WASTE.

Nam says WELL, AT ONE POINT
LEOPARD SAYS TO TRACKER LOVE OR
REVENGE.
CAN YOU NOT HAVE BOTH.
AND THE FRIENDS SHARE THIS MOTTO
WHICH IS NOBODY LOVES NO ONE.
AND IT APPEARS THROUGHOUT THE
BOOK.

Marlon says TAKEN FROM CHRIS
ISAAC.

[LAUGHTER]

Nam says IS IF THAT IS THE CASE
WHAT SHOULD BE MOTIVATION FOR A
RELATIONSHIP BE?

Marlon says I THINK THE
MOTIVATION FOR ANY RELATIONSHIP
WOULD BE TO DEFY ALL OF THAT.
TO AN EXTENT A LOVE RELATIONSHIP
MAKES NO SENSE AND THAT'S
EXACTLY WHAT IS SO GREAT ABOUT
THEM.
THAT'S WHAT'S GREAT ABOUT THEM.
THEY'RE NOT RATIONAL.
WHEN IT WORKS, IT DEFIES
EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG IN THE
WORLD.
AND I THINK THAT'S IMPORTANT.
AND I THINK THAT'S SOMETHING
THAT TRACKER HIMSELF
ACCIDENTALLY FALLS INTO.
AND REALIZES THE MEANING OF
THAT.
MAYBE TOO LATE.
BUT HE DOES.
BUT I DO THINK THAT SOME OF THE
MOST POWERFUL AND WONDERFUL
THINGS IN THIS WORLD MAKE SO NO
SENSE.
YOU KNOW, YOU CAN'T... YOU CAN'T
THINK YOURSELF INTO LOVE.
I'VE TRIED IT.
IT DOESN'T WORK.

[LAUGHTER]

Nam says SAME!
WELL, WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME
AND HAVE I A FEW MORE QUESTIONS
TO ASK YOU ABOUT MYTHOLOGY.
YOU'VE SAID THAT THE ANCIENT
GREEKS ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO IS
GOT HUMAN NATURE RIGHT.

Marlon says RIGHT.

Nam says WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?

Marlon says MEANING THAT THEY CAN
STILL DEAL WITH THE COMPLEXITY
OF REALLY REALLY TERRIBLE
PEOPLE.
I THINK FOR US THE MORE
HORRENDOUS THE CRIME IS THE
QUICKER WE HAVE... THIS WOULD BE
THE MORE URGENT FOR US TO REDUCE
THE PERSON.
WE CAN'T HUMANIZE OUR MONSTERS.
AND IT'S SOMETHING FOR VALID
REASONS.
BUT I THINK THE ANCIENT GREEKS
WERE VERY GOOD AT KEEPING THAT
COMPLEXITY.
ESPECIALLY MORAL COMPLEXITY WHEN
CHARACTERS HAVE DONE TERRIBLE
THINGS.
I DON'T KNOW IN THE ABSENCE OF
GREEK MYTHOLOGY I CAN'T IMAGINE
MEDEA EXISTING AS A PLAY.
AND I THINK THAT THEY ALSO PUT
THEIR HEROES IN CHECK THIS WAYS
IN WHICH WE STILL CAN'T.
WE'RE GOING THROUGH EVERY DAY
THERE'S ANOTHER HERO WHO WE HAVE
FOUND HAS DONE HORRIBLE THINGS.
AND WE GO THROUGH OUR OWN CRISIS
BECAUSE WE DON'T KNOW HOW TO
PROCESS THE HEROISM, THE ACTS OF
THE HERO, WHATEVER THEY'VE DONE,
ACCOMPLISHED OR MADE WITH WHO
THEY ARE.
WHEREAS I THINK THE ANCIENT
GREEKS FIGURED THAT OUT REALLY
REALLY WELL.

Nam says EVERYONE'S COMPLEX.

Marlon says EVERYONE'S COMPLEX
AND ULTIMATELY YOUR TALENT ISN'T
YOURS ANY WAY.

Nam says WHOSE IS IT?

Marlon says ULTIMATELY THE GODS
WHICH BRINGS US BACK TO
RELIGION.

Nam says WHAT DRAWS YOU TO
MYTHOLOGY?

Marlon says THE STORIES, THE
PAGANISM.
THE FEMINISM AND THE... MOST OF
THE MYTHS... QUITE A FEW OF THE
MYTHS ARE REALLY QUITE VERY
GENDER EQUAL AND VERY, YOU KNOW,
THEY HAVE BEEN RETOLD IN ALL
SORTS OF WAYS SO THEY'RE ALMOST
ALL OF THEM HAVE BEEN CORRUPTED
IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.
BUT THERE'S JUST A SENSUAL,
SENSORY, FOR THE MOST PART EQUAL
AND EQUALLY DANGEROUS WORLD
WHERE ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

Nam says YOU DESCRIBE THIS BOOK
AS AN AFRICAN GAME OF THRONES
AND I'M WONDERING IF NOW YOU
REGRET SAYING THAT.
DO YOU REGRET SAYING THAT?

The caption changes to "An African 'Game of Thrones.'"

Marlon says I DON'T REGRET SAYING
THAT ALTHOUGH I THINK IT IS
HILARIOUS THAT IT TOOK OFF SO
MUCH THAT GEORGE MARTIN E-MAIL
ME AND SAID I HEARD YOU MADE A
AFRICAN VERSION OF HIS BOOK.
HE THOUGHT IT WAS DELIGHTFUL.
THE STATEMENT.
I DON'T THINK HE'S READ THE
BOOK.
I, YOU KNOW, IF... IF IT SERVES
A PURPOSE OF PROMISING AND IN
SOME CASES WARNING PEOPLE THAT
EVEN THOUGH IT'S A WORLD OF MAKE
BELIEVE IT'S A VERY ADULT BOOK.
WHICH IS WHAT I THINK GAME OF
THRONES IS THEN I'M FINE WITH
IT.

Nam says IN A TALK YOU GAVE AT
PEMBROKE COLLEGE IN THE U.K.,
YOU SAID THAT ANY REARED OF
MARVEL COMICS AND FANTASY KNOWS
HOW IT FEELS TO FEEL
INSIGNIFICANT.

Marlon says MM-HMM.

Nam says WHEN HAVE YOU FELT
INSIGNIFICANT?

Marlon says GROWING UP.
GROWING IN THE SUBURBS, GROWING
UP AS A NERD SISSY.
GROWING UP IN ALL SORTS OF
ENVIRONMENT WHERE PEOPLE MAKE IT
A JOB TO REDUCE YOU.
AND TURNING TO STUFF LIKE COMICS
PARTICULARLY COMICS LIKE "X" MEN
WHICH IS ALSO A BUNCH OF
REJECTS.
I ALWAYS SAID READING "X" MEN IS
A LOT LIKE BEING AN "X" MAN.
AND I STILL BELIEVE IT.
THEN YOU FIND COMMUNITY IN A
FELLOW OUT CAST.
WHICH IS WHAT I FOUND AS WELL
FROM HIGH SCHOOL COMING UP.
BUT, YEAH, BUT ALSO WRITING IS A
LONELY PROFESSION.
AND WRITING IS SOMETIMES IN
ISOLATION.
CERTAINLY WHEN I WAS GROWING UP
AND DOING IT.
SO, YEAH, I THINK BEING WHO I
WAS, GROWING UP AND BEING A
WRITER ON MY OWN QUITE A BIT.
AND I THINK TO GET TO THE POINT
WHERE I MOVE FROM THINKING THAT
ADJUST BEING ALONE... THAT
ITSELF WAS A PROCESS.

Nam says YOU'RE NOT ALONE
ANYMORE.
[LAUGHTER]
WHEN YOU MOVED TO THE U.S. YOU
HAD LIKE HAD A COUPLE OF HUNDRED
DOLLARS ON YOU.

Marlon says MM-HMM.

Nam says "BLACK LEOPARD, RED
WOLF," EVERYBODY'S READING IT.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT YOURSELF
AND THE WORLD AND DO YOU STILL
FEEL INSIGNIFICANT?

Marlon says I HOPE I'M NOT
INSIGNIFICANT BUT SMALL.
IT'S A BIG WORLD AND I SHOULD
FEEL SMALL IN IT.
THERE IS MORE TO THE WORLD THAN
ME AND MORE TO THE WORLD THAN
THIS BOOK.
WHAT DID I LEARN... IT GOES BACK
TO WHAT I SAID BEFORE.
THAT PEOPLE LIKE ME HAVE ALWAYS
BELONGED.
AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT I
LEARNED.
BECAUSE RIGHT NOW, PEOPLE LIKE
ME, WHETHER IT'S RACE OR
ORIENTATION ARE STRUGGLING FOR A
PLACE.
WE'RE STRUGGLING FOR A SEAT AT
THE TABLE.
AND TO FIND OUT WHAT WE PROBABLY
EVEN MADE THE TABLE IS REALLY
REALLY REALLY POWERFUL.

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

Nam says AND COMMERCIAL SUCCESS
IS IMPORTANT, TOO.

Marlon says THAT, TOO.

[LAUGHTER]

The caption changes to "Producer: Colin Ellis, @ColinEllis81."

Nam says MARLON JAMES, IT'S BEEN
A PLEASURE. THANK YOU SO MUCH
AND CONGRATULATIONS.
IT'S A GREAT BOOK.

Marlon says THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Watch: Marlon James: Finding Inspiration in African Mythology