Poignant final novel by Iain Banks out 11 days after death

Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:29am EDT
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By Paul Casciato

LONDON (Reuters) - The final novel of Scottish author Iain Banks was released on Thursday to bittersweet acclaim 11 days after he died of the very disease around which the plot revolves.

"The Quarry" describes the final weeks in the life of a man named Guy in his 40s battling terminal cancer who is being cared for by his 18-year-old son Kit.

The best-selling writer, who died on June 9 at the age of 59, asked his publisher Little Brown to bring forward its release date after telling fans about his illness, but he did not live to see it in public hands.

Banks had said and his widow Adele has reiterated that he did not know he had cancer until the novel was almost finished.

"Had he known he had cancer, he would never have written about it," Adele Banks said on the Banksophilia website, started by the novelist's friends.

Early reviews said Banks's instinct for fierce black comedy and biting dialogue remained as sharp as ever and the Guardian called it a poignant, difficult and distressing read.

"Reading this book, one is hit again and again with the fact - tragic and astonishing in equal measure - that Banks didn't know he was dying until he'd almost finished the first draft, that the cancer that was the subject matter of his novel would soon become the urgent subject matter of his life," wrote Alex Preston in the Guardian.

MONSTERS   Continued...