Russell Banks & Chase Twichell
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Photo by Marion Ettlinger
Russell Banks grew up in a working-class world that has played a major role in shaping his writing. Through a dozen novels and short story collections that have won him Guggenheim and NEA grants and a St. Lawrence Prize for fiction, Banks has made a life's work of charting the causes and effects of the terrible things "normal" men can and will do. He writes with an intensely focused empathy and a compassionate sense of humor that help to keep readers, if not his characters, afloat through the misadventures and outright tragedies in his books. A deep appreciation for his work has led the cities of Seattle and Rochester to each select his book The Sweet Hereafter as a "book in common" for their communities to read.
A prolific writer of fiction, Russell Banks' titles include The Darling, The Sweet Hereafter, Cloudsplitter, Rule of the Bone, Aflliction, Success Stories, Continental Drift, Searching for Survivors, Trailerpark, The Book of Jamaica, The New World, and Hamilton Stark. The Angel on the Roof is a collection of thirty years of Banks' short fiction. His latest novel, The Reserve, was published in early 2008; it is set in the Adirondacks in 1936-37, at the height of the Great Depression. Also in 2008, Seven Stories Press published Dreaming Up America, an American edition of his nonfiction book of essays, which was previously published in France under the title Amerique Notre Histoire. In May 2008, Harper Collins published Outer Banks (which includes three of his previously published novels: Family Life, Hamilton Stark, and The Relation of My Imprisonment). Banks has contributed poems, stories, and essays to The Boston Globe Magazine, Vanity Fair, The New York Times Book Review, Esquire, Harper's and numerous others.
His novels, Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter, were adapted into feature films which received widespread critical acclaim: James Coburn won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and Nick Nolte was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for their roles in "Affliction;" "The Sweet Hereafter" won three awards, including the Grand Prix and the International Critics Award atthe 1997 Cannes Film Festival. Currently, Martin Scorsese has plans to produce the film of Cloudsplitter, with a screenplay by Banks, and Raoul Peck directing, for HBO; Raoul Peck is also directing the feature film of Continental Drift, with a screenplay by Banks, which will star Josh Hartnett. The Darling (selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of 2004) is being adapted for Focus Features; it will be directed by Martin Scorsese and will star Cate Blanchett. A film of Rule of the Bone, with a screenplay by Banks, is in development, to be directed by Alain Berliner.
Included among the numerous honors and awards Russell Banks has received are the Ingram Merrill Award, the John Dos Passos Award, the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Laure Bataillon Prize for best work of fiction translated into French, for the French edition of The Darling. Continental Drift and Cloudsplitter were Pulitzer Prize finalists; Affliction and Cloudsplitter were PEN/Faulkner Finalists. Banks was New York State Author (2004-2008) and is the founder and President of Cities of Refuge North America.
"Russell Banks has now become....the most important living white male American on the official literary map, a writer we, as readers and writers, can actually learn from, whose books help and urge us to change." - The Village Voice
Photo by Arturo Patten
Chase Twichell was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1950. She received a bachelor's degree from Trinity College (Hartford) in 1973 and earned an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1976. Her books of poetry include The Snow Watcher (Ontario Review Press, 1998), The Ghost of Eden (1995), Perdido (1991), The Odds (1986), and Northern Spy (1981). She has won awards from the Artists Foundation (Boston), the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. From 1976 to 1984 she worked at Pennyroyal Press, and from 1986 to 1988 she co-edited the Alabama Poetry Series, published by University of Alabama Press. She also co-edited The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach with Robin Behn (HarperCollins, 1992). She has taught at Princeton University, Goddard College, Warren Wilson College, the University of Alabama, and Hampshire College. In 1999 Twichell founded Ausable Press. She lives in Keene, New York, with her husband, the novelist Russell Banks.