Russell Banks & Richard Russo (2008)

This event happened on November 21st 2008 at Folger Theatre.

Two acknowledged masters of American Literary fiction read from new novels that explore richly drawn fictional worlds set in upstate New York.

Russell Banks is an American writer of fiction and poetry. As a novelist, Banks is best known for his "detailed accounts of domestic strife and the daily struggles of ordinary often-marginalized characters". His stories usually revolve around his own childhood experiences, and often reflect "moral themes and personal relationships".

Banks is a member of the International Parliament of Writers and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Richard Russo was born July 15, 1949, in Johnstown (and grew up in Gloversville), New York.  Russo is considered by many to be the best contemporary writer of small-town American life. He is often compared to authors like Sinclair Lewis and Sherwood Anderson who also wrote about small towns of their generation. Some critics contend that Russo’s own early experiences in old, dying, industrial towns of New England have had a profound impact on his focused subjects.

So far, there has been only one exception to this theme of small-town life—Russo’s 1997 Straight Man about the life and tribulations of a college professor, which is what Russo was for a time.

Russo has enjoyed a lot of success with his works. His novel Nobody’s Fool (1993) was adapted to film and starred some of Hollywood’s best, including Paul Newman and Susan Sarandon. Russo co-authored the film adaptation of this novel. He has also written other scripts both for film and television, including the 1998 film Twilight, the 2000 teleplay Flamingo Rising, and the 2005 HBO production Ice Harvest. But Russo’s greatest accomplishment, as far as critics are concerned, was his 2001 novel Empire Falls, which won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Empire Falls is typical Russo, a story about a family in small-town Maine.

Other books that Russo has written include Mohawk (1986) and The Risk Pool (1988), a coming-of-age story also set in a dying blue-collar New England town. In 2002, Russo published a collection of short stories called The Whore’s Child and Other Stories.