Russell Banks, “whose vivid portrayals of working-class Americans grappling with issues of poverty, race and class placed him among the first ranks of contemporary novelists,” died January 7, the New York Times reported. He was 82. The author of 21 works of fiction and nonfiction, Banks “brought his own blue-collar background to bear in his writing, delving into the psychological pressure of life in economically depressed towns in the Northeast, their stark reality often shadowed by the majestic Adirondacks of northern New York State.”