Set in Liberia and the United States from 1975 through 1991, The Darling is the story of Hannah Musgrave, a political radical and member of the Weather Underground. Hannah flees America for West Africa, where she and her Liberian husband become friends of the notorious warlord and ex-president, Charles Taylor. Hannah's encounter with Taylor ultimately triggers a series of events whose momentum catches Hannah's family in its grip and forces her to make a heartrending choice.
Losing her father to a heart attack on the same night she meets a politically liberal artist, scandal-marked heiress Vanessa Cole hides a dark family secret that takes her from the Adirondacks to war-torn Europe and threatens everyone she encounters. By the author of
The Relation of My Imprisonment is a work of fiction utilizing a form invented in the seventeenth century by imprisoned Puritan divines. Designed to be exemplary, works of this type were aimed at brethren outside the prison walls and functioned primarily as figurative dramatization of the test of faith all true believers must endure. These "relation," framed by scripture and by a sermon explicating the text, were usually read aloud in weekly or monthly installments during religious services. Utterly sincere and detailed recounting of suffering, they were nonetheless highly artificial. To use the form self-consciously, as Russell Banks has done, is not to parody it so much as to argue good-humoredly with the mind it embodies, to explore and, if possible, to map the limits of that mind, the more intelligently to love it.
In Sucess Stories , an exceptionally varied yet coherent collection, Russell Banks proves himself one of the most astute and forceful writers in America today. Queen for a Day, Success Story, and Adultery trace fortunes of the Painter family in there pursuit of and retreat from the American dream. Banks also explores the ethos of rampant materialism in a group of contemporary moral fables. The Fish is an evocating parable of faith and greed set in a Southeast Asian village, The Gully tells of the profitability of violence and the ironies of upward mobility in a Latin American shantytown, and Chrildren's Story explores the repressed rage that boils beneath the surface of relationships between parents and children and between citizens of the first and third worlds.