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Douglas Kennedy (writer)

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Douglas Kennedy
Born (1955-01-01) January 1, 1955 (age 69)
New York City, U.S.
OccupationNovelist, travel writer
LanguageEnglish, French, German
EducationCollegiate School
Bowdoin College (BA)
Trinity College Dublin
Notable worksThe Big Picture
The Pursuit of Happiness
Grace Patricia Carley
(m. 1985; div. 2009)
Christine Ury
(m. 2012; div. 2017)

Douglas Kennedy (born January 1, 1955) is an American novelist.[1][2] He is known for international bestsellers The Big Picture,[3] The Pursuit of Happiness, Leaving the World and The Moment.


Early life and family[edit]

Douglas Kennedy was born in New York City in 1955, the son of an Irish Catholic commodities broker and a German Jewish production assistant at NBC.[4][5] He was educated at The Collegiate School and graduated with a B.A. magna cum laude from Bowdoin College in 1976. He also spent a year studying at Trinity College Dublin. "I was a history major," Kennedy explained. "Retrospectively, I think the history major provides much better training for a novelist. So much of what I do in my own fiction is observational; is looking at behavior. By studying human history you really see how human folly endlessly repeats itself. In my work—in whatever form it takes—I am very much grappling with what it means to be American in this way."[citation needed]

Kennedy married Grace Patricia Carley on 20 April 1985.[6] He has two children, Max and Amelia.[7] The couple divorced in 2009. In 2012, Kennedy married Christine Ury. They divorced in 2017.[8]


In 1977, he returned to Dublin and started a co-operative theatre company with a friend. He was later hired to run the Abbey Theatre's second house, The Peacock. He also co-produced the 1983 Irish drama film Attracta starring Wendy Hiller.[9] At the age of 28, he resigned from The Peacock to write full-time. After several radio plays for the BBC and one stage play, he decided to switch directions and wrote his first book, a narrative account of his travels in Egypt called Beyond the Pyramids, which was published in 1988. Kennedy and his then-wife moved to London that year, where Kennedy expanded his journalistic work, and wrote for The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, The Listener, the New Statesman,[10] Le Monde,[11][12][13] and the British editions of Esquire and GQ.

Kennedy is the author of seventeen novels, including the international bestsellers The Big Picture,[14] The Pursuit of Happiness,[15] Leaving the World and The Moment. He is also the author of three travel books.[citation needed]

More than 14 million copies of his books have been sold worldwide and his work has been translated into twenty-two languages.[citation needed] Kennedy's novels are often written in European landscapes, and have been particularly acclaimed and beloved in France; his novel, Five Days, published by Atria in April 2013 and by Belfond in October 2013, became a #1 Bestseller in France, as did his earlier novels, The Moment and Leaving the World. Kennedy received the French decoration Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2007. In November 2009, he received the first “Grand Prix du Figaro,” awarded by the newspaper Le Figaro.[citation needed]

After it was published in 2017 in France, "The Great Wide Open" was published in the US and the UK in 2019. Kennedy's last novel, "Afraid Of The Light" was published by Penguin Random House in July 2021. Kennedy has also written three children's books in collaboration with French illustrator Joann Sfar. The series of children's books are entitled "Les fabuleuses aventures d'Aurore" and depict the life of young girl with low verbal autism.[citation needed]

In 2022, Kennedy was invited by President Macron of France to accompany him on his official state visit to Washington DC and New Orleans, including the opening ceremony at The White House and a State Department luncheon hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.[citation needed]



  • Beyond the Pyramids: Travels in Egypt (1988)
  • In God's Country: Travels in the Bible Belt (1989)
  • Chasing Mammon: Travels in the Pursuit of Money (1992)


  • The Dead Heart (1994)[16]
  • The Big Picture (1997)
  • The Job (1998)
  • The Pursuit of Happiness (2001)
  • A Special Relationship (2003)
  • State of the Union (2005)
  • Temptation aka Losing It (2006)[17]
  • The Woman in the Fifth (2007)
  • Leaving the World (2010)
  • The Moment (2011)[18]
  • Five Days (2013)
  • The Heat of Betrayal (2015) aka "The Blue Hour"[19]
  • The Pick-Up and Hit and Run/Drôle de Drague et Délit de Fuite (2016)
  • La symphonie du hasard (2017) aka "The Great Wide Open"
  • The Great Wide Open (2019)[20]
  • Isabelle in the Afternoon (2020)[21][22]
  • Afraid Of The Light (2021)
  • Flyover (2023)

Children's literature[edit]

  • Les fabuleuses aventures d'Aurore (2019)
  • Aurore et le mystère de la chambre secrète (2020)
  • Aurore et l'incroyable énigme de New York (2022)


The Dead Heart was the basis of the 1997 film Welcome to Woop Woop. Kennedy's second novel, The Big Picture, a New York Times Bestseller, was a dark exploration of identity and self-entrapment set in Connecticut's suburbs. It was adapted as a French film (L'Homme qui voulait vivre sa vie) and released in theaters in 2010, starring Romain Duris and Catherine Deneuve.[citation needed]

The Woman in the Fifth, the story of a beleaguered professor who falls in love with a strange woman who isn't the person she seems, was also adapted into film, and was released in November 2011, starring Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas.[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

Being one of the best-selling novelists in Europe, Douglas Kennedy is has been called "a master storyteller with a trademark genius for writing serious popular fiction."[23] His books have received generally positive reviews.[citation needed]

His first novel, The Dead Heart' was reviewed by Jason Cowley from The Independent and said, "This book is constantly capable of amusing us."[24] According to Publishers Weekly review of his best selling book The Pursuit of Happiness', "Kennedy tells his epic tale with a keen eye and brisk pace, confidently sweeping through historic events."[25] Liadan Hynes from Irish Independent reviewed the book The Heat of Betrayal and said, "Douglas Kennedy manages to maintain a gripping pace and it's enjoyable for the reader."[26] According to The Independent review of his book Leaving the World, "Kennedy keeps us wanting to know what happens next. We can call this book manipulative, but this is exactly what we pay him to do."[27] Publishers Weekly in their review of Kennedy's bestseller book The Big Picture said, "There is a lot of excitement in the air about this novel, and it is thoroughly justified."[28]


  1. ^ "A twilight interview with Douglas Kennedy - Assises Internationales du Roman 2012". Retrieved 29 January 2013.
  2. ^ Trollope, Anthony (11 December 2014), "Adolphus Crosbie spends an Evening at his Club", The Small House at Allington, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/owc/9780199662777.003.0026, ISBN 978-0-19-966277-7
  3. ^ "Best Sellers: Fiction Hardcover". archive.nytimes.com. 20 April 1997.
  4. ^ https://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsandculture/arid-40700228.html
  5. ^ https://www.facebook.com/DouglasKennedyBooks/posts/my-mother-is-german-jewish-my-father-irish-catholic-though-both-american-born-an/1189285071167553/
  6. ^ "Grace Carley Wed to Douglas Kennedy in Ireland". The New York Times. 21 April 1985. ISSN 0362-4331.
  7. ^ "Delight and the world according to Douglas Kennedy". independent. 29 May 2015.
  8. ^ "Douglas Kennedy, filled with love: "This is a second marriage, we are happy" | The Siver Times". sivertimes.com. 25 November 2016.
  9. ^ Film Details: Attracta, Trinity College Dublin website, https://www.tcd.ie/irishfilm/showfilm.php?fid=56704
  10. ^ "Douglas Kennedy, Author at New Statesman". New Statesman.
  11. ^ "Douglas Kennedy : " A l'ère de la "cancel culture" – où un simple bon mot peut chambouler votre carrière –, surveiller ce qu'on dit en public est devenu crucial "". Le Monde.fr (in French). 26 December 2020.
  12. ^ "Douglas Kennedy : " Le capitalisme américain s'effondrera-t-il comme un château de cartes quand le Covid-19 sera dompté ? "". Le Monde.fr (in French). 1 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Douglas Kennedy : " Tous les scénarios hypothétiques ne font qu'alimenter l'incertitude du moment "". Le Monde.fr (in French). 30 May 2020.
  14. ^ "Best Sellers: Fiction Hardcover". archive.nytimes.com. 20 April 1997.
  15. ^ "Novelist Douglas Kennedy: 'We all read and write to remind ourselves we are not alone'". independent. 11 July 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  16. ^ Chenery, Susan (14 February 2020). "The roving novelist who wrote his way to millions". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  17. ^ "Temptation, by Douglas Kennedy". The Independent. 19 October 2006.
  18. ^ "The Moment, By Douglas Kennedy". The Independent. 2 February 2012.
  19. ^ "Douglas Kennedy: 'What's more important to me than living well is living interestingly'". belfasttelegraph. ISSN 0307-1235.
  20. ^ "The Great Wide Open by Douglas Kennedy – review". the Guardian. 20 January 2019.
  21. ^ "Books in brief: a modern classic of Mexican literature, French cliches and uplifting lit". The Irish Times.
  22. ^ "" Isabelle, l'après-midi ", de Douglas Kennedy : le feuilleton littéraire de Camille Laurens". Le Monde.fr (in French). 11 June 2020.
  23. ^ "The 'Strangely Mesmerizing' New Novel from International Best-Seller Douglas Kennedy '76". News. 6 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Book Review / A plunge into the big nowhere: The dead heart - Douglas Kennedy". Independent.co.uk. 19 August 1994.
  25. ^ "The Pursuit of Happiness by Douglas Kennedy". www.publishersweekly.com. Retrieved 17 May 2024.
  26. ^ "Book review: The Heat of Betrayal - A couple's troubled journey to the heart of darkness". independent. 11 May 2015.
  27. ^ "Leaving the World, By Douglas Kennedy". The Independent. 26 February 2010.
  28. ^ "Fiction Book Review: The Big Picture by Douglas Kennedy, Author Hyperion Books $23.45 (416p) ISBN 978-0-7868-6298-6". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved 28 February 2022.

External links[edit]