Russell Banks Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Russell Banks has published several collections of poetry and many novels. Continental Drift (1985) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and Affliction (1989) was nominated for both the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the Irish International Prize. Other major works include Family Life (1975), Hamilton Stark (1978), The Sweet Hereafter (1991), Rule of the Bone (1995), and Cloudsplitter (1998). His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in The Boston Globe Magazine, Vanity Fair, The New York Times Book Review, Esquire, and Harper’s.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Russell Banks has been awarded a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the Ingram Merril Award, the Fels Award, the John Dos Passos Award, the St. Lawrence Award for Fiction from St. Lawrence University and Fiction International, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for work of distinction. His work has been anthologized in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards and The Best American Short Stories.

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Russell Banks has published several short-story collections, including Searching for Survivors (1975), The New World (1978), Trailerpark (1981), Success Stories (1986), and The Angel on the Roof: The Stories of Russell Banks (2000). His poetry has been collected in Fifteen Poems (1967), 30/6 (1969), Waiting to Freeze (1969), and Snow: Meditations of a Cautious Man in Winter (1974). His account of the American experience—a commentary on the country’s literature, film, politics, and history—appears in Dreaming up America (2008).


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

As several critics have observed, Russell Banks’s novels explore the struggles of New England’s white working class with a sharp eye and unrelenting focus. In part, his achievement derives from his own experience, including the torment of dealing with a broken family and an inchoate rage at a world that boxes in the individual and makes him or her feel alienated from the middle class and the privileged.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Chapman, Jeff, and Pamela S. Dean. Contemporary Authors 52 (1996). A short but information-packed study under the headings “Personal,” “Career,” “Memberships,” “Awards and Honors,” “Writings,” and “Sidelights” (containing author quotes and discussions, mostly of longer fiction but also touching on Trailerpark) followed by an invaluable list of biographical and critical sources.

Charles, Katie. “The Best Novels You’ve Never Read.” New York, June 4, 2007. Banks’s novel The Darling is included in this critical analysis of some of the best underrated and unknown novels.

Contemporary Literary Criticism 37, 1986. Provides a good overview of Banks’s life up to 1985 and gives a substantial sampling of literary criticism.

Contemporary Literary Criticism 72, 1992. A strong biographical overview of Banks’s life and influences, followed by critical analyses of work published between 1986 and 1991. Included is a valuable interview conducted by writer Trish Reeves that provides a good understanding of the author. Top literary critics provide illuminating commentary.

Haley, Vanessa. “Russell Banks’s Use of ‘The Frog King’ in ‘Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story.’” Notes on Contemporary Literature 27 (1997): 7-10....

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