NEW YORK (AP) — Russell Banks is an award-winning fiction writer whose novels, such as The Agony and The Sweet Hereafter, are rooted in the wintery rural areas of his hometown Northeast, transcending everyone’s dreams from the modern blue. I imagined the downfall. Radical abolitionist John Brown’s collar worker has died. he was 82 years old.
Banks, a professor emeritus at Princeton University, died Saturday in upstate New York, his editor Dan Halpern told The Associated Press. Banks was being treated for cancer, Halpern said.
Joyce Carol Oates, who called Banks a great American author and “a much-loved friend” on Twitter, said he died peacefully at home.
“I loved Russell, I loved his tremendous talent and his generosity of heart,” Oates said. am.”
Born in Newton, Massachusetts and raised in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Banks is the self-proclaimed heir to 19th-century writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Walt Whitman, aspiring to the high arts and deeply conscious of the national spirit. I was. He’s the son of a plumber, working-class families and those who died trying to collapse, those caught in a “kind of madness” that could erase their past, and those like him who escaped and survived. “Why? Me, Lord?”
Although Banks lived part of the year in Florida and had a home in Jamaica for a period of time, he was basically a Northerner with a sense of old Puritan results. Be it the upstate New York community torn apart by the bus accident in “Sweet Hereafter,” or the desperate, divorced New Hampshire cop undone by his paranoid fantasies in “Affliction.” , snow often fell on his fiction.
In Banks’ landmark 1985 breakthrough, Continental Drift, oil burner repairman Bob Dubois flees his native New Hampshire to start a business in Florida with his wealthy brother, but his I learned that my brother’s life was as empty as his own.
“His brother’s bragging was empty from the beginning. Bob knew it from the beginning in a deep, almost unconscious way, and his bragging simply because he knew it was empty. Allowed talk and bragging. But he never believed it would turn out this way,” Banks wrote.
Cloudsplitter, his most ambitious novel, is the 750-page story of John Brown and his improbable quest to rid the country of slavery.
The story predates Banks’ life, but the inspiration was literally familiar. Banks lived near Brown’s burial site in North Elba, New York, and passed by so often that Brown “became a kind of ghostly presence,” the author told the AP in 1998.
“Cloudsplitter” reads like a prequel to Banks’ contemporary work, evoking Hawthorne and other early influences. As his son Owen Brown remembers, John Brown was a cursed man in the Old World whose determination to free the slaves and punish the slaves made him feel like a revivalist preacher. burned his face.
I was a boy I was frightened by his father’s face,” explains Banks’ narrator. “I remember my father looking straight into our eyes and burning us with his gaze. And he got out of here and waged a war against slavery.The time had come, he declared, and he cried completely and wanted to join the hour.
Banks was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1999 for “Cloudsplitter,” and 13 years earlier for “Continental Drift.” His other honors included his Anisfeld-Book Award for “Cloudsplitter” and membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Two of his books were made into critically acclaimed films in the late 1990s. “Sweet Hereafter,” directed by Atom Egoyan and starring Ian Holm;
Banks’ recent work includes the story collection A Permanent Member of the Family and the 2021 novel Foregone, which explores the impulsive youth of an American filmmaker who fled to Canada during the Vietnam War. looking back inside.
His books often talk about his father’s absence and other failures, and Banks’ own father, Earl Banks, was an alcoholic who beat him as a child, leaving him with a permanently damaged left eye.
Russell was meant to go to another world, being nicknamed “Teacher” in high school, being the first in his family to attend college, and receiving a full scholarship from Colgate University.
Among the countless young people of the 1960s who adopted Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” as a kind of bible, he was an idealist. He dropped out of Colgate University and in Cuba, Fidel headed south with the dream of joining Castro’s revolutionary army. His quest ended in St. Petersburg, Florida.
By his early twenties, he had been married twice (and eventually had four children), endured more than a few bar fights, and wrote so bad a poem he wanted to burn afterwards. I have written. He returned to Hampshire and resumed his education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He was in his mid-thirties and nearing the end of his second marriage. That’s when he published his first collection of stories, ‘Searching for Survivors’ and his first novel, ‘Family Life’.
When he turned 50 in the early 1990s, he became an established writer and settled into a permanent marriage to his fourth wife, poet Chase Twitchell.
“Over the years, I think I have been able to coherence my anger with myself. ’” he told Plowshares in an interview published in the magazine’s winter 1993-94 issue. “It’s very difficult to be a sane person when you’re dominated by anger you don’t understand. When you start to understand that, you start helping others.”