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Banks, Russell

(US, 1940– )

Banks's novels are searing examinations of American life; they are also pacey, well-plotted, and psychologically engaging. Begin with Continental Drift (1985), a devastating exploration of the American Dream gone wrong, which follows Bob Dubois, a central heating engineer who wants to be richer and more famous, into free fall when he takes his family to live in a trailer while he works for his wheeler-dealer brother. He ends up shooting a man; moves on to captaining a tourist fishing boat for a drug-running mate, and attempts to bring illegal immigrants into the United States for cash. It's the story of an ordinary man, whose actions become unforgivable, and who knows it. Intercut is the story of two Haitians trying to get into the United States—imagining that in that ideal country, the horror and cruelty which is their daily fare will cease. Affliction (1989) explores the handing down of male violence from one generation to the next, again examining how a decent man can be twisted into something evil; and Cloudsplitter (1998) is a fictional exploration of the real abolitionist, John Brown, in pre-Civil War America.

John Updike, Raymond Carver, Kazuo Ishiguro  JR

Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (A-Bo)