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The Quarry, last novel by Iain Banks, goes on sale today

The final novel written by Iain Banks is released today, 11 days after his death.

Banks announced in April that he had been diagnosed with gall bladder cancer and had just months to live. He died on June 9, aged 59.

The best-selling author asked his publishers, Little, Brown, to bring forward the release date of The Quarry after telling fans about his illness.

The book details the physical and emotional strain of cancer and describes the final days of a man with terminal cancer, as seen through the eyes of his son.

Critics have described it as "sad" due to the subject matter and the fact it is Banks' last novel, but it has also been praised for being "written with the life-enhancing verve characteristic of his best work".

The Quarry is already proving popular and has been in the top-ten best-sellers list on Amazon and Waterstones for two weeks from pre-orders of the book.

In an interview with the BBC, Banks said he was almost finished the novel 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."

After his death his publisher said Banks had been able to celebrate The Quarry when he received early copies.

"Just three weeks ago he was presented with finished copies of his last novel, The Quarry, and enjoyed celebration parties with old friends and fans across the publishing world," Little, Brown said.

"Iain Banks' ability to combine the most fertile of imaginations with his own highly distinctive brand of gothic humour made him unique. He is an irreplaceable part of the literary world."

The Scottish author published his first novel The Wasp Factory in 1984 and his debut sci-fi title, Consider Phlebas, came three years later.

His novel The Crow Road, which opens with the memorable line "It was the day my grandmother exploded", was adapted for a popular television series in 1996.

In 2008 Banks was named one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945 in a list compiled by The Times.

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