Russell Banks

Born: 3/28/1940
Birthplace: Newton, Mass.

Banks's hardscrabble working-class childhood in New Hampshire and Eastern Massachusetts has played a major role in shaping his writing. The eldest of four children, he was the first in his family to go to college. Before he established himself as a writer he had a number of occupations including, plumber, shoe salesman, and window dresser. His books include: Cloudsplitter, Family Life, Hamilton Stark, The Book of Jamaica, Continental Drift, Success Stories, Rule of the Bone, Affliction, and The Sweet Hereafter (the latter two books have been made into films.) His latest collection of stories, The Angel on the Roof, has garnered critical acclaim. Banks's numerous literary awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the arts Creative Writing Fellowships, O. Henry and Best American Short Story award, the John Dos Passos Award, and the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In early 2001, Banks was elected President of the International Parliament of Writers, following Wole Soyinka and Salman Rushdie. He is married to the poet Chase Twichell, his fourth wife, and is the father of four grown daughters.

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