Minnesota is blessed with a load of fine authors, but none orbit quite so high as Marlon James. The Macalester professor is among the biggest names in literature these days. His 700-page epic, A Brief History of Seven Killings, won the prestigious Man Booker Prize. And his latest novel, Black Leopard, Red Wolf—the first installment in a trilogy he calls an “African Game of Thrones”—has been celebrated everywhere, including the New Yorker and the cover of the New York Times Book Review. Though locally James faces heated competition from the likes of Louise Erdrich and Julie Schumacher, no one’s quite lighting up the literary world like Minnesota’s maestro of the epic.