Noted Adirondacks author Russell Banks dies at 82

Jan. 9—SARATOGA SPRINGS — Noted Adirondacks author Russell Banks, who holds honorary doctorate degrees from three north country colleges, has died at age 82.

The New York Times reported that Mr. Banks, whose novels, "Cloudsplitter" and "Continental Drift," were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, died at his home in Saratoga Springs. He was a resident of Keene in Essex County for many years.

Two of his novels, "The Sweet Hereafter" and "Affliction," were made into films, with "The Sweet Hereafter" being nominated for two Academy Awards and James Coburn winning an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role in "Affliction."

The Massachusetts native frequently set his novels and stories in the Adirondacks and the north country.

In 1998, Mr. Banks received an honorary Doctor of Literature from St. Lawrence University, Canton. In 2003 he received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Paul Smith's College, and in 2005 he was awarded and honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Clarkson University, Potsdam.

His best-known work, "Cloudsplitter," tells the story of John Brown, a 19th-century Christian radical who intermittently ran a farm and raised a family in North Elba near Lake Placid before becoming a prominent abolitionist. Mr. Brown was hung as a traitor after leading a failed 1859 raid on a federal armory in Harper's Ferry, Virginia, an action that was intended to start a slave liberation movement that would spread into the south.

Mr. Brown's body was returned to North Elba and buried in front of his home at what today is known as the John Brown Farm State Historic Site.