Iain Banks, the Scottish author whose successful book The Wasp Factory marked his move into the world of literary fiction fulltime, has died aged 59. His family have announced his death just two months after revealing that the writer had terminal cancer.
The Scottish writer revealed in April this year that he was suffering from terminal gall bladder cancer and was unlikely to live for more than a year.
Banks was best known for his novels The Wasp Factory, The Crow Road and Complicity. He was also well known for his The Culture series. His publisher has released a statement which said, in part, that Banks was, “an irreplaceable part of the literary world”.
Little, Brown Book Group also said that the author was, “one of the country’s best-loved novelists” for both his mainstream and science fiction books. The statement also said, “Iain Banks’ ability to combine the most fertile of imaginations with his own highly distinctive brand of gothic humour made him unique.”
Once the Scottish author had revealed the news of his illness in April, Iain asked his publishers to bring forward the release date of his latest novel, The Quarry, so he could see it on the shelves. On Sunday, it was revealed that his newest book, which will be released on 20 June, would detail the physical and emotional strain of cancer.
The novel describes the final weeks in the life of a man, who, in his 40s has terminal cancer. The irony was not missed by the Scottish author. The writer of The Wasp Factory was to die two months after his announcement of having the disease that killed him. Iain Banks was able to finished the book, but died age 59 before the novel’s “moved up” date of release came to be.
In an interview with BBC’s Kirsty Wark, Banks revealed that he was some 87,000 words into writing the book when he was diagnosed with his own illness. He said, “I had no inkling. So it wasn’t as though this is a response to the disease or anything, the book had been kind of ready to go. And then 10,000 words from the end, as it turned out, I suddenly discovered that I had cancer.”
Iain was a Scottish writer. He decided to become a writer at the age of 11 and completed his first novel The Hungarian Lift-Jet at the age of 16. He wrote mainstream fiction under his own name Iain Banks, and science fiction as Iain M. Banks. The M. stood for his “adopted” middle name of Menzies.
Banks published his work under two names. His parents had intended to name him Iain Menzies Banks, but his father made a mistake when registering the baby Iain’s birth and Iain Banks became the officially registered title. Despite this error, Banks used his middle name and actually submitted The Wasp Factory under the name Iain M. Banks for publication.
Banks’s editor enquired about the possibility leaving the ‘M’ out, as it appeared “too fussy” and the fear that readers could get confusedpotential existed for confusion with Rosie M. Banks, a minor romantic novelist in the Jeeves novels by P.G. Wodehouse; Banks agreed to leaving the initial out.
Following the publication of three mainstream novels, Banks’s publishers agreed to publish his first science fiction novel Consider Phlebas. In order to create a distinction between his mainstream works and his science fiction novels, Banks suggested the return of the ‘M’ to his name and the author’s second “nom de plume” was confirmed.
After the publication and success of The Wasp Factory in 1984, Banks began to writing full-time. His first science fiction book, Consider Phlebas, was released in 1987. Consider Phlebus marked the start of the popular The Culture series. His books have been adapted for theatre, radio and television.
In 2008, The Times named Banks in their list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”
Fellow Scottish author Ken MacLeod, said that Banks’s death “left a large gap in the Scottish literary scene as well as the wider speaking English world.”
The award winning Scottish author wrote 28 books in all, with one being a nonfiction book. He also had two short story collections. Iain Banks died on 9 June, 2013 at the age of 59 from terminal Cancer. The literary world and his fans will miss him.
By Michael Smith