Marcus Burke Draws on Autobiographical Details In 'Team Seven'

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"Team Seven" tells the story of Andre Battel, a black kid growing up in Milton, Massachusetts. His Costa Rican mother works hard and does her best. His Jamaican father gets stoned, has affairs and is mostly absent.

Andre is a talented basketball player, who grows away from his family and eventually falls into drug-dealing with a local street gang. "Team Seven" is a powerful coming of age novel that draws on autobiographical details. Author Marcus Burke also grew up in Milton as the son of West Indian immigrants. Like his protagonist, he had a talent for basketball, which landed him a spot in a local prep school and, eventually, a college basketball scholarship.

But despite his ability on the hard court, Marcus Burke yearned for something else: to be a writer. That meant overcoming his own lack of confidence, the expectations of his coaches and the pressure that society puts on a black kid from the city who can shoot hoops. But with this debut, Marcus Burke asserts a commanding, authentic voice in the literary world.


Marcus Burke, a writer who grew up in Milton and attended Brimmer and May. He was recruited to play basketball at Susquehanna University, and was eventually accepted to the Iowa Writers' Workshop where he was awarded a grant in honor of James Alan McPherson from the University of Iowa MacArthur Foundation Fund.


The Atlantic: Why Every Writer Needs Two Educations

  • "After Marcus Burke, author of Team Seven, learned he’d been accepted to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he got no Girls-style celebration. His basketball coaches and teammates at Susquehanna University were mostly baffled, even angered, by his literary hopes. They couldn’t understand why Burke, a gifted athlete having a standout season, would throw away a lifetime’s training trying to write fiction. They wanted him to keep playing in Europe, not cast his bet with the writing desk and art’s uncertain lot."

This segment aired on April 17, 2014.


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