Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks
A Novel

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 4 Critic Reviews



A triumph of the imagination and a masterpiece of modern storytelling, Cloudsplitter is narrated by the enigmatic Owen Brown, last surviving son of America's most famous and still controversial political terrorist and martyr, John Brown. Deeply researched, brilliantly plotted, and peopled with a cast of unforgettable characters both historical and wholly invented, Cloudsplitter is dazzling in its re-creation of the political and social landscape of our history during the years before the Civil War, when slavery was tearing the country apart. But within this broader scope, Russell Banks has given us a riveting, suspenseful, heartbreaking narrative filled with intimate scenes of domestic life, of violence and action in battle, of romance and familial life and death that make the reader feel in astonishing ways what it is like to be alive in that time.


About Russell Banks

See more books from this Author
Russell Banks is the former president of Cities of Refuge North America, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous international prizes and awards. Banks lives in upstate New York, and he was the New York State author from 2004–2008.
Published September 27, 2011 by Harper Perennial. 770 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Cloudsplitter

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

Though he's most certainly written more than three great novels (his duet of sad, sad books about small-town life and death, Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter, both made into films in 1998, are particularly recommended), it could be argued that only three times has Russell Banks, a plumber's son...

Nov 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Cloudsplitter: A Novel

AV Club

See more reviews from this publication

Cloudsplitter, Russell Banks' evocative, viscerally powerful new novel, is ostensibly about the life of radical abolitionist John Brown, a deeply religious man whose relentless fight against slavery—beginning as a link in the Underground Railroad and culminating in a bloody insurrection at Harper...

Mar 29 2002 | Read Full Review of Cloudsplitter: A Novel


Weaving this epic novel somewhat to the lee side of the historical John Brown, Russell Banks has created in Cloudsplitter an immediate landmark in American fiction: lyricism that explores the unspoken complexities of the long history of relationships between whites and blacks, as well as storytel...

| Read Full Review of Cloudsplitter: A Novel

Daily Kos

Among Southerners, his name became a verb - abolitionists wanted to violently "Brown" them - but in the North, he approached savior status - Harriet Tubman said, "it was God in him."

Sep 10 2006 | Read Full Review of Cloudsplitter: A Novel

Reader Rating for Cloudsplitter

An aggregated and normalized score based on 142 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review