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HomeBreaking NewsRussell Banks, praised author of 'Cloudsplitter,' dies at 82

Russell Banks, praised author of ‘Cloudsplitter,’ dies at 82

'Quick read' news summary

NEW YORK — Russell Banks, an award-winning fiction writer who rooted such novels as “Affliction” and “The Sweet Hereafter” in the wintry, rural communities of his native Northeast and imagined the dreams and downfalls of everyone from modern blue-collar workers to the radical abolitionist John Brown in “Cloudsplitter,” has died. He was 82.

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, a former Princeton colleague who referred to Banks on Twitter as a great American writer and “beloved friend of so many,” said he died peacefully in his home.

“I loved Russell & loved his tremendous talent & magnanimous heart,” Oates wrote. “’Cloudsplitter’” (was) his masterpiece, but all his work is exceptional.”

Born in Newton, Massachusetts, and raised in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Banks was a self-styled heir to such 19th century writers as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Walt Whitman, aspiring to high art and a deep grasp of the country’s spirit. He was a plumber’s son who wrote often about working class families — whether those who died trying to break out, caught up in a “kind of madness” that the past can be erased, or those like himself who got away and survived and asked “Why me, Lord?”

Banks lived part of the year in Florida, and for a time had a home in Jamaica, but he was essentially a man of the North, with an old Puritan’s sense

NEW YORK -- Russell Banks, an award-winning fiction writer who rooted such novels as “Affliction” and “The Sweet Hereafter” in the wintry, rural communities of his native Northeast and imagined the dreams and downfalls of everyone from modern blue-collar workers to the radical abolitionist John Brown in “Cloudsplitter," has died. Banks, a professor emeritus at Princeton University, died Saturday in upstate New York, his editor, Dan Halpern, told The Associated Press. “I loved Russell & loved his tremendous talent & magnanimous heart,” Oates wrote.

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