The oldest of four children, Russell Banks spent his childhood and adolescence in New Hampshire and Eastern Massachusetts. His blue collar, working class background is strongly reflected in his writing. The first in his family to attend college, Banks studied at Colgate University and later graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill. While he was establishing himself as a writer, Banks spent time as a plumber, shoe salesman, and a window dresser. Banks's titles include Searching for Survivors, Family Life, Hamilton Stark, The New World, The Book of Jamaica, Trailerpark, The Relation of My Imprisonment, Continental Drift, Success Stories, Affliction, The Sweet Hereafter and Dreaming Up America. Banks has also written numerous poems, stories, and essays. Banks is the recipient of several awards and prizes. Among his accolades are the St. Lawrence Award for Short Fiction, the John Dos Passos Award, and the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1986, Continental Drift was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.