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Affliction
RUSSELL BANKS

Affliction by Russell Banks
43 reviews (1989) (368p)
National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction Finalist
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist

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Book Description
Wade Whitehouse is an improbable protagonist for a tragedy. A well-digger and policeman in a bleak New Hampshire town, he is a former high-school star gone to beer fat, a loner with a mean streak.It is a mark of Russell Banks' artistry and understanding that Wade comes to loom in one's mind as a blue-collar American Everyman afflicted by the dark secret of the macho tradition. Told by his articulate, equally scarred younger brother, Wade's story becomes as spellbinding and inexorable as a fuse burning its way to the dynamite.


Amazon.com Review
If Russell Banks hadn't become a writer, he thinks he would have wound up stabbed to death in a barroom brawl. He is the son of a two-fisted, drunken New England plumber, and the grief of fatherly combat resonates through his work like the background radiation of the big bang. Banks became a violently drinking plumber himself--and then a Pulitzer Prize-nominated Princeton literary giant and one of the luckiest Oscar-buzzed writers in Hollywood history.

(The Atom Egoyan adaptation of Banks's brilliant novel The Sweet Hereafter perfectly captures its brooding beauty, and Affliction may be Paul Schrader's finest film since he wrote Taxi Driver.)

Affliction transmutes Banks's painful past into fiction. His divorced protagonist, Wade Whitehouse, 41, is imprisoned by fate in Lawford, New Hampshire, a hell frozen over. He digs wells for chump change, lives in a trailer, drinks, and alienates his daughter by dragging her to a miserable Halloween costume party. In two weeks' time, Wade demolishes his pitiable hopes of family happiness, drawn into a rigorously plausible series of disastrous deaths. In flashbacks to his Dad-abused youth, we see how Wade wound up such a Dostoyevskian clown.

Banks has a mind of winter: when Wade sees his dead parent, the scene unfolds with the cold logic of ice-crystal formation. The story is narrated by Wade's kid brother, the family's sole escapee to college, in a cool, distanced way. Both brothers contain aspects of Banks, but each breaks free of autobiography. This is one haunting novel.


Other Award Winning Books by Russell Banks
Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks
154 reviews (2011) (432p) (Amazon Top100) (Amazon Top10Lit) (NYT100) (New Yorker) (PF) (Amazon) (ALA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
The Darling by Russell Banks
53 reviews (2004) (400p) (LATimes)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks
139 reviews (1998) (768p) (PP) (PF) (NYTimes)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Continental Drift by Russell Banks
34 reviews (1985) (432p) (PP)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page

Russell Banks Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 7  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 4  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 2 Cloudsplitter · Continental Drift ·  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 1 Affliction ·  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 3 Affliction · Cloudsplitter · Lost Memory of Skin ·  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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