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Russell Banks
Russell Banks

MAJOR AMERICAN NOVELIST, TO READ FROM NEW NOVEL OF LOVE AND MURDER SET IN THE ADIRONDACKS DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION

NYS Writers Institute, April 16, 2008

4:00 p.m. Seminar | Heffner Alumni House, 1301 Peoples Avenue,
Rensselear (RPI), Troy

8:00 p.m. Reading | Darrin Communication Center 308, Rensselear (RPI), Troy

"I'm honored and extremely pleased to have been chosen state author. My predecessors, from the first New York State Author, Grace Paley, to the most recent, Kurt Vonnegut, are a distinguished group of writers, and I'm flattered to have been invited to join their august company." - RB

CALENDAR LISTING:
Russell Banks, major American novelist, will read from and discuss his new novel, “The Reserve” (2008), set in the Adirondacks during the 1930s, at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 in the Darrin Communication Center, Room 308, on the Rensselaer (RPI) campus.  Earlier that same day at 4:00 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the Heffner Alumni House, 1301 Peoples Ave., on the Rensselaer campus. The events are cosponsored by the New York State Writers Institute in association with Rensselaer’s 67th McKinney Writing Contest and Reading, and are free and open to the public.

"Sometimes if you move back in time you can see more clearly the present. . ." (3:48)

PROFILE
Russell Banks, the author of eleven novels and five short story collections, has been called, “...a writer we, as readers and writers, can actually learn from, whose books help and urge us to change” (Fred Pfeil, “Voice Literary Supplement”). A leading voice of working class experience in modern letters, Banks writes fiction that typically deals with issues of family conflict, addiction, economic hardship, and racism. From 2004 to 2007, he served as New York’s official state author.

His newest novel, “The Reserve,” is set in the Adirondacks at the height of the Great Depression. An exploration of social conflict in the 1930s, part love story, part murder mystery, the novel is set on the grounds of a private mountain preserve that serves as a vacation playground for the very rich. The preserve is staffed by an army of servants and caretakers whose job it is to maintain a vision (or illusion) of paradise in the American wilderness. Scott Turow, writing in “Publishers Weekly,” called it, “A vividly imagined book. It has the romantic atmosphere of those great 1930s tales in film and prose, and it speeds the reader along from its first pages…. ‘The Reserve’ is a pleasure well worth savoring.”

Banks is a past recipient of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the John Dos Passos Award, and the O. Henry Memorial Award. He received the American Book Award for “The Book of Jamaica” (1980). His novels, “Continental Drift” (1986), and “Cloudsplitter” (1998), were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Two other novels, “Affliction” (1990) and “The Sweet Hereafter” (1991) were adapted as major motion pictures. His recent novel, “The Darling” (2004), was a finalist for the “Los Angeles Times” Book Award. Banks’s collected stories, “The Angel on the Roof,” appeared in 2000.

Two of Banks’s novels have been adapted for feature-length films, “The Sweet Hereafter” (winner of the Grand Prix and International Critics Prize at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival) and “Affliction” (which earned a “Best Supporting Actor” Oscar for James Coburn).  Film adaptations of “Continental Drift,” “Rule of the Bone,” and “Cloudsplitter” are currently in production.

The events are cosponsored by the New York State Writers Institute in conjunction with Rensselaer’s 67th McKinney Writing Contest and Reading.

Previous Visit: State Author, 2004 - 2006

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.