"A couple of years I taught in graduate programs at NYU and Columbia, in the early eighties.""Although I still occasionally paint and draw, my life has now been shaped by my writing.""And out of a desire essentially to imitate what I was reading, I began to write, like a clever monkey.""And there are people who want to be writers because they love to write. And they care.""But on the other hand, I don't actively seek out stories or hunt them down.""But really, it was reading that led me to writing. And in particular, reading the American classics like Twain who taught me at an early age that ordinary lives of ordinary people can be made into high art.""Chimpanzees are endangered. Severely.""First of all it's usually women who run these higher primate sanctuaries, rarely men. They are white. They come from privileged backgrounds. They are educated.""For almost anyone who chooses to be a writer, since so very few writers are able to learn a living from their work that is equivalent to the living earned by the average dentist or accountant.""I began as a boy with artistic talent... as a visual artist... I thought that was what I'd become and in my late teens drifted into reading serious literature.""I don't want it to be all that self-conscious or artificial, but it really grows out of my having invented myself as a listener so that I could hear her voice.""I much prefer working with kids whose life could be completely upended by a reading of a book over a weekend. You give them a book to read - they go home and come back a changed person. And that is so much more interesting and exciting.""If you dedicate your attention to discipline in your life you become smarter while you are writing than while you are hanging out with your pals or in any other line of work.""It's hard to spend years at a time working in total solitude with no reality-check.""John Brown first swam into my vision in the 1960s when I was a political activist in the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement at Chapel Hill, where I went to university.""Lists of books we reread and books we can't finish tell more about us than about the relative worth of the books themselves.""Motivations are too tangled and complex.""My major allegiance has been to storytelling, not to history.""Nobody does anything for one reason.""One of the things I have tried to do with this book and with all of them really is avoid that simple, easy, reductionist view of motivation and to show we do things for a complex net of reasons, a real braid of reasons.""So the same cultural and political issues that divided us in 1968 are still dividing us.""Storytelling is an ancient and honorable act. An essential role to play in the community or tribe. It's one that I embrace wholeheartedly and have been fortunate enough to be rewarded for.""The 60s passed and faded and I grew older, and in 1987 bought a house in upstate New York, and it turned out that John Brown was buried down the road from my house and that he had lived there longer than anywhere else and his house was still standing.""The best thing about writing programs is that it rationalized the apprenticeship of a writer.""The United States particularly abandoned Liberia after the end of the Cold War.""Through writing, through that process, they realize that they become more intelligent, and more honest and more imaginative than they can be in any other part of their life."
Banks was born in Newton, Massachusetts. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He lives in upstate New York, and has been named a New York State Author. He is also Artist-in-Residence at the University of Maryland. He is married to the poet Chase Twichell.
Banks is a member 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 international prizes and awards. He has written fiction, and more recently, non-fiction, with Dreaming up America. His main works include the novels Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, Cloudsplitter, The Sweet Hereafter, and Affliction. The latter two novels were each made into feature films in 1997 (see Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter).
Many of Banks's works reflect his working-class upbringing. His stories often show people facing tragedy and downturns in everyday life, expressing sadness and self-doubt, but also showing resilience and strength in the face of their difficulties. Banks has also written short stories, some of which appear in the collection The Angel on the Roof, as well as poetry. He has written a movie adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On the Road for producer Francis Ford Coppola, which was slated for production in 2006. It is not known if Banks's screenplay will be used in the final version. Banks's novel The Darling is going to be made into a feature film directed by Martin Scorsese, with Cate Blanchett in the main role. Banks was the 1985 recipient of the John Dos Passos Prize for fiction. Cloudsplitter was purported to have been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction that eventually went to Michael Cunningham's The Hours.