Russell banks 2011

Russell Banks in 2011. Photo by Larry D. Moore. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Russell Banks
Born March 28, 1940 (1940-03-28) (age 80)
Newton, Massachusetts, United States
Occupation Poet and novelist
Nationality American
Notable work(s) Continental Drift, Affliction, Rule of the Bone, Cloudsplitter, The Darling
Spouse(s) Chase Twichell

Russell Banks (born March 28, 1940) is an American poet and fiction writer.

Life Edit

Banks was born in Newton, Massachusetts on March 28, 1940. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[1][2]

He lives in upstate New York, and has been named a New York State Author.[3] He is also artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is married to poet Chase Twichell.

His work has been translated into 20 languages and has received numerous international prizes and awards. He has written fiction, and more recently, non-fiction, with Dreaming up America. His main works include the novels Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, Cloudsplitter, The Sweet Hereafter, and Affliction.

He was a founding editor (with William Matthews and Newton Smith) of literary magazine Lillabulero.[4]



Russell Banks in 2009. Photo by Luigi Novi. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Banks is a novelist best known for his “detailed accounts of domestic strife and the daily struggles of ordinary often-marginalized characters”.[5] His stories usually revolve around his own childhood experiences, the often reflect “moral themes and personal relationships”.[6]

Many of Banks's works reflect his working-class upbringing. His stories often show people facing tragedy and downturns in everyday life, expressing sadness and self-doubt, but also showing resilience and strength in the face of their difficulties. Banks has also written short stories, some of which appear in the collection The Angel on the Roof, as well as poetry. He has written a movie adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On the Road for producer Francis Ford Coppola, which was slated for production in 2006.[7] It is not known if Banks's screenplay will be used in the final version. Banks's novel The Darling is to be made into a feature film directed by Martin Scorsese, with Cate Blanchett in the main role.[8] Banks was the 1985 recipient of the John Dos Passos Prize for fiction. Cloudsplitter was purported to have been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction that eventually went to Michael Cunningham's The Hours. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996.[9]

"Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat"Edit

Russell Banks wrote a short story collection called the Trailerpark, the short story “Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat,” was one of the few stories Banks wrote for this collection. The story “Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat,” is about a struggling interracial couple. It begins with setting the “August heat wave,” scenery (p.67) elaborating on how hot it was at the trailer park and a short description of each of the random people who live at the trailer park and what they are doing to start off their day. The reader is then introduced to the main characters of the story, the black man and the white women. The focus of the story is then directed towards what the couple is doing. The man plans to go to the lake to fish and the woman to sunbath. It follows them onto the lake in the dark green rowboat, while they are on the lake, and on their way home. During their time on the lake the woman starts to talk about how she told her mother about the pregnancy and how her mother reacted. She informs the man that she will need to be back before three-thirty so she is able to make it to her scheduled appointment to abort the baby. The narrator never states that the woman is pregnant nor that she is getting an abortion but with the context clues the reader is able to conclude these assumptions. The man rows the woman back to the trailer park they both get off the boat the man collecting his fishing tools, the woman her towel, magazine and bottle of tanning lotion and go their separate ways.

Critical reputationEdit

Many have admired Russell Bank’s form of realistic writing. His portrayal of the working-class struggling to overcome some of the issues they are faced with such as destructive relationships, poverty, drug abuse, and spiritual confusion, has been compared to the work of Raymond Carver, Richard Ford, and Andre Dubus. Christine Benvenuto has commented that, “Banks writes with an intensely focused empathy and a compassionate sense of humor that help to keep readers, if not his characters, afloat through the misadventures and outright tragedies of his books.” [10]


Banks is a member of the International Parliament of Writers and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

His novels Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter were both made into feature films in 1997.



  • 15 poems (by Russell Banks, William Matthews, & Newton Smith). Northwood Narrows, NH: Lillabulero Press, 1967.
  • Waiting to Freeze: Poems. Northwood Narrows, NH: Lillabulero Press, 1969.
  • Snow: Meditations of a cautions man in winter. Hanover, NH: Granite Press, 1974.


  • Family Life. New York: Avon, 1975.
  • Hamilton Stark: A novel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1978.
  • The Book of Jamaica. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980.
  • The Relation of My Imprisonment: A fiction. Washington: Sun & Moon, 1983.
  • Continental Drift. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.
  • Affliction. New York: Harper & Row, 1989.
  • The Sweet Hereafter: A novel. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
  • Rule of the Bone: A novel. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.
  • Cloudsplitter: A novel. New York: HarperFlamingo, 1998.
  • The Darling. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.
  • The Reserve: A novel. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.
  • Outer Banks: Three early novels. New York: Harper Perennial, 2008.
  • Lost Memory of Skin. New York: Ecco, 2011.
  • A Permanent Member of the Family. New York: Ecco, 2013.

Short fictionEdit

  • Searching for Survivors. New York: Fiction Collective, 1975.
  • The New World: Tales. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1985.
  • Trailerpark. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981.
  • Success Stories. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.
  • The Angel on the Roof: The stories of Russell Banks. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.


  • The Invisible Stranger: The Patten, Maine, photographs of Arturo Patten. New York: HarperCollins, 1999.
  • Dreaming Up America. New York: Seven Stories, 2008.
  • David Roche, Conversations with Russell Banks. Jackson, MI: University Press of Mississippi, 2010.
For creating travel memories, Russell Banks prefers words to images

For creating travel memories, Russell Banks prefers words to images

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[11]

See also Edit


  1. "Quick Facts -- UNC News Services". 
  2. "Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Award Recipients". 
  3. "Website of New York State Writers Institute". 
  4. Newton Smith, Asheville Poetry Review. Web, Aug. 1, 2018.
  5. "Russell Banks - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up)". Student Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  6. "Russell Banks - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up)". Student Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  7. "Interview: Russell Banks". January 18, 2005. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  8. "Russell Banks". The Steven Barclay Agency. © 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  9. "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter B". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved May 17, 2011. 
  10. Burns and Hunter, Tom and Jeffery W.. "Russell Banks". Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  11. Search results = au:Russell Banks, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Apr. 23, 2014.

External links Edit

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