Russell Banks, prolific ‘Cloudsplitter’ and ‘Affliction’ author, dead at 82

Russell Banks, the prolific author of more than a dozen novels including “Cloudsplitter” and “Affliction,” died at age 82, his editor said.

His death in upstate New York on Saturday followed a battle with cancer, according to editor Dan Halpern.

Known for penning stories about regular people and those attempting to overcome hardship, Banks was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1986 for “Continental Drift,” a novel about two brothers whose seemingly opposite lives aren’t so different.

The Newton, Mass., native was a Pulitzer finalist again in 1999 for “Cloudsplitter” about abolitionist John Brown’s fight against slavery.

“Very sad news that a great American writer, Russell Banks, beloved friend of so many, passed away peacefully last night in his home in upstate NY,” fellow author Joyce Carol Oates tweeted Sunday. “I loved Russell & loved his tremendous talent & magnanimous heart. ‘Cloudsplitter’ — his masterpiece. but all his work is exceptional.”

Banks’ 1989 novel “Affliction” centering on a New Hampshire cop was adapted into a 1997 movie, for which James Coburn won an Oscar for best supporting actor.

Another Banks novel, 1991′s “The Sweet Hereafter” about a deadly school-bus accident rocking a small town, was also turned into a 1997 film. That movie received two Oscar nominations and won the Grand Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival.

Banks was deemed New York State Author from 2004-2008 and was a professor at Princeton University. His most recent novel, “The Magic Kingdom,” came out last year.

With News Wire Services