Iain Banks, bestselling Scottish author, dies at 59

Writer Iain Banks in 2004.
(Yui Mok / Associated Press)

Bestselling Scottish author Iain Banks, 59, has died of cancer. His death arrived just two months after he announced on his website that he had been diagnosed with the terminal illness.

Banks wrote both science fiction and bestselling social novels. He was best known for the novels “The Wasp Factory,” “The Crow Road,” and his “The Culture” series. “Banks writes with rich, tactile detail and dark suspense,” wrote The Times’ Richard Eder in 1998.

“The exciting thing about reading Iain Banks is that you never know what kind of book it’s going to be,” his friend writer Ian Rankin said. “It could be weird, it could be other-worldly, it could be literary fiction, a family saga, about a disc jockey — you don’t know what you’re going to get, so every time a new book comes out there was that excitement.”


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After being diagnosed with cancer in March, Banks swiftly wrote a novel, “The Quarry.” Slated to be published later this month in the U.K., “The Quarry” features Guy, a cancer patient. The Telegraph has an excerpt: “the fatal cancer is an unwilled suicide where, initially at least, one small part of the body has taken a decision which will lead to the death of the rest. Cancer feels like betrayal.”

Known for his dark humor, Banks proposed to his partner, Adele, after his diagnosis. He wrote that he had asked her “if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow,” adding, “(sorry – but we find ghoulish humour helps).” The two were married in March.

Between 1984 and 2013 Banks wrote 27 novels, including the forthcoming “The Quarry.” His works include “Consider Phlebas,” “Stonemouth,” “Espedair Street,” and “Transition.”

On Sunday, a website set up for friends and fans to write tributes to Iain Banks was overwhelmed with traffic.


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