Russell Banks, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, is one of America's most prestigious fiction writers, a past president of the International Parliament of Writers, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Common Wealth Award for Literature. He lives in upstate New York and Miami, Florida.
At first glance, aside from the setting, this massive novelized life of Abolitionist John Brown, told from the viewpoint of one of his sons, has nothing in common with Banks's book of outlaw excess, Rule of the Bone (HarperCollins, 1995). Yet both deal with single-mindedness, rebellion, and codes‘except that Brown's versions of these are more honorable (he would have agreed with Dylan that "to live outside the law you must be honest"). This book has all the stark beauty of the Adirondacks setting and of Brown's religion, and the elderly, reclusive narrator's coming to terms with himself and his father is an achievement in its own right. Besides, like the works of Thomas Mallon and Thomas Gifford, this is not just a fine novel (and a wonderfully structured one at that) but a way to participate in history. Recommended, without hyperbole, for all collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/97.]‘Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Oswego, N.Y.
"A HUGE AND THUNDEROUSLY GOOD BOOK."
-- CHICAGO TRIBUNE