Douglas Kennedy (writer)

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Douglas Kennedy
Born (1955-01-01) January 1, 1955 (age 66)
New York, New York, U.S.
OccupationNovelist, travel writer
LanguageEnglish, French, German
Notable worksThe Big Picture
The Pursuit of Happiness

Douglas Kennedy (born January 1, 1955) is an American novelist.[1]


Douglas Kennedy was born in New York City in 1955, the son of a commodities broker and a production assistant at NBC. 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."

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.[2] 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, and the British editions of Esquire and GQ.

Kennedy is the author of twelve novels, including the international bestsellers The Big Picture, The Pursuit of Happiness, Leaving the World and The Moment. His latest novel, The Heat of Betrayal, was published by Random House UK on 23 April 2015 and in France by Belfond as Mirage on 7 May 2015, with an American publication in February 2016, under the title The Blue Hour by Atria (a division of Simon and Schuster). He is also the author of three highly praised travel books.

More than 14 million copies of his books have been sold worldwide and his work has been translated into twenty-two languages. 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.

Kennedy has two children, Max and Amelia. He divides his time between London, Paris, Berlin, Maine and New York.

Kennedy is an atheist.[3]

After it was published in 2017 in France, "The Great Wide Open" was published in the US and the UK in 2019.

His last novel, “Isabelle in the Afternoon” was published by Penguin Random House in January 2020.

Kennedy's next work, "Afraid Of The Light" is set for release in July of 2021, again by Penguin Random House.



  • 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)
  • The Big Picture (1997)
  • The Job (1998)
  • The Pursuit of Happiness (2001)
  • A Special Relationship (2003)
  • State of the Union (2005)
  • Temptation (2006)
  • The Woman in the Fifth (2007)
  • Leaving the World (2010)
  • The Moment (2011)
  • Five Days (2013)
  • The Heat of Betrayal (2015) aka "The Blue Hour"
  • 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)
  • Isabelle in the Afternoon (2020)
  • Afraid Of The Light (2021)


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.

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.


  1. ^ "A twilight interview with Douglas Kennedy - Assises Internationales du Roman 2012". Retrieved 29 January 2013.
  2. ^ Film Details: Attracta, Trinity College Dublin website,
  3. ^ "Now I'm a pretty hardened atheist - not to mention something of a metropolitan sceptic - but I do appreciate the human need to believe that, behind life's important happenstantial events, there is a larger meaning. And even if we don't buy the "controlling hand of God", we often try to console ourselves with the "to everything a purpose" theory of chance. This is especially true in instances of random calamity." Douglas Kennedy, 'The Hand of Fate', The Independent (London), April 28, 2001, Features, p. 30-33.

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