Oct 20, 2011
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Russell Banks is a prolific novelist who is never afraid to tackle tough, controversial issues in his writing. His 1985 novel Cloudsplitter was about the possibilities for anarchy and his Rule of the Bone featured drug dealing and paedophilia. Banks is president of the ‘Cities of Refuge North America’ and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into 20 languages and has received numerous international prizes and awards.
Banks says he became interested in the lives of convicted sex offenders after reading newspaper stories about their difficulties in finding a place to live once they leave prison. Offenders have to register with the authorities and neighbours have to be notified and they are usually banned within cities from living anywhere near children (a stipulation that, of course, drastically reduces their housing possibilities). In Miami, for example, where Banks’ latest novel is set, sex offenders are not allowed to live within 2,500 of anywhere that children may congregate. The result is that many end up under a Miami causeway, a place known to Banks and which serves as the backdrop of the novel.