Interview: Marlon & Jake Read Dead People

Marlon & Jake Read Dead People is the hit podcast on which bestselling and Booker Prize-winning author Marlon James and his editor, Jake Morrissey, discuss the (dead) authors they love and hate. Season 2 of the podcast launched June 23rd. Tune in to kick off your summer with Marlon and Jake on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts!

Read on to discover their longtime favorite books and authors, their guilty pleasures, and the classics you’ll never find on their bookshelves (or in their audiobook libraries).   

a drawn sketch of Marlon James

Marlon’s Picks

Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 1970. He is the author of the New York Times-bestseller Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which was a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction in 2019. His novel A Brief History of Seven Killings won the 2015 Man Booker Prize. It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for fiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction, and the Minnesota Book Award. It was also a New York Times Notable BookJames is also the author of The Book of Night Women, which won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction and an NAACP Image Award. His first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. James divides his time between Minnesota and New York.

Marlon is a cohost of Marlon & Jake Read Dead People.

Always on my bookshelf:

Song of Solomon

• Narrated by the author

Wide Sargasso Sea

By Jean Rhys

“Not just a book I love, but a book that has been a huge influence on me.”

Bleak House

By Charles Dickens • Narrated by Simon Vance

Never on my bookshelf:

Wuthering Heights

By Emily Brontë • Narrated by Ruth Golding

“I tried again with this book, and I still can’t stand it.”


By E. M. Forster

The Warden

By Anthony Trollope • Narrated by Simon Vance

“One of the world’s most boring books, which I’ve read twice and still can’t give you a synopsis of.”

Guilty pleasure:


By Jackie Collins • Narrated by the author

In my beach bag:

The Bluest Eye

By Toni Morrison • Narrated by the author

Words to live by:

“Books are worth fighting for, but they’re also worth fighting over.”

“Those Brontës really don’t get human emotion.”

“A good trashy novel still understands story.”

“I don’t think Jane Austen is someone you should take relationship advice from.”

“The people who have had interesting lives aren’t necessarily the people who should be writing autobiographies.”

Jake’s Picks

Jake Morrissey, Executive Editor of Riverhead Books, publishes both fiction and non-fiction in the areas of narrative nonfiction, history, science, culture, religion/spirituality, humor, historical fiction, and thrillers. He has worked with a wide range of bestselling and award-winning authors, including Daniel H. Pink, Marlon James , Anne Lamott, and James McBride. Before joining Riverhead, he was an editor at Scribner and at Harmony. He is the author of the historical mystery A Weekend at Blenheim and the nonfiction history The Genius in the Design.

Jake is a cohost of Marlon & Jake Read Dead People.

Always on my bookshelf:

If On a Winter’s Night A Traveler

By Italo Calvino • Narrated by Jefferson Mays

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

By Shirley Jackson • Narrated by Bernadette Dunne

“A short gem of a novel where the horror creeps up on you.”


By Nella Larsen • Narrated by Robin Miles

Never on my bookshelf:

Stuart Little

By E. B. White • Narrated by Julie Harris

“A human mother gives birth to a white mouse and nobody’s creeped out? No, thanks.”

Alice in Wonderland

By Lewis Carroll • Narrated by Zac Smith

Guilty pleasure:

And Then There Were None

By Agatha Christie • Narrated by Hugh Fraser

“This is the textbook definition of a brilliantly plotted novel.”

In my beach bag:

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

By John le Carré • Narrated by Michael Jayston

The Man Who Came to Dinner

By George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart

“The second funniest play ever written in English.”

Words to live by:

“If an author is going to be obvious, just hit me with a 2×4 and be done with it.”

“Bless me, father, for I’m about to sin: I’m not a fan of Tolkien or the hobbits.”

“Charlotte Lucas is the Iago of Pride and Prejudice.”

“Pro-tip for readers: If you are interested in reading autobiographies, try to find [ones by] writers.”

Looking for more picks and words to live by?
Tune in to Marlon & Jake Read Dead People.

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