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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 14, 2004

Russell Banks Reads From New Novel 'The Darling' Oct. 28

Russell Banks, a major voice in American literature, will read from his new novel, "The Darling," at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910.

The reading, hosted by Julie Englander, will be a free event in Shambaugh Auditorium of the UI Main Library. Listen on the Internet at

Newsweek hailed "The Darling" as "powerful and evocative," and a review in the Hartford Courant concluded that Banks has created "a heroine every bit as complex and flawed as someone out of Jane Austen."

A preview in Publishers Weekly summarized, "Six years after the publication of his much-lauded novel 'Cloudsplitter,' Banks returns with a portrayal of personal and political turmoil in West Africa and the U.S. The darling of the title is narrator Hannah Musgrave, a privileged child of the turbulent 1960s and '70s, who now, at 59, reflects on her life. ...

"An articulate and keenly observant narrator, Hannah explains Liberia's history and U.S. connections as smoothly as she reflects on tribal practices, the fate of chimpanzees and her own misguidedness. Better yet, for the purposes of good storytelling, she is conflicted and selfish, and often naive despite her wide experience. She emerges as a fascinating figure, striking universal chords in her search for identity and home, though her life may ultimately be a study in futility. A rich and complex look at the searing connections between the personal and the political, this is one of Banks' most powerful novels yet."

Banks is a prolific writer of fiction, with titles including "Searching for Survivors," "Family Life," "Hamilton Stark," "The New World," "The Book of Jamaica," "Trailerpark," "The Relation of My Imprisonment," "Continental Drift," "Success Stories," "Affliction," "The Sweet Hereafter," "Rule of the Bone," "Cloudsplitter" and "The Angel On The Roof," a collection of short stories.

"Continental Drift" and "Cloudsplitter" were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and "Affliction" was short listed for both the PEN/Faulkner Fiction Prize and the Irish International Prize.

He has also contributed poems, stories and essays to the Boston Globe Magazine, Vanity Fair, the New York Times Book Review, Esquire, Harper's and many other publications.

His works have been widely translated and published in Europe and Asia. Two of his novels have been adapted for feature-length films, "The Sweet Hereafter," directed by Atom Goyan, winner of the Grand Prix and International Critics Prize at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival; and "Affliction." directed by Paul Schrader, starring Nick Nolte, Willem Dafoe, Sissy Spacek and James Coburn. He is the screenwriter of a film adaptation of "Continental Drift."

Banks has won numerous awards and prizes for his work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships, an Ingram Merrill Award, the St. Lawrence Award for Short Fiction, an O. Henry Best American Short Story Award, the John Dos Passos Award and the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,