William Kennedy (author)
William Joseph Kennedy|
January 16, 1928
Albany, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Author, journalist, historian|
|Residence||Averill Park, New York, U.S.|
|Alma mater||Siena College|
|Period||1955 – present|
|Genre||Fiction, History, Supernatural|
|Notable works||Legs, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, Ironweed|
|Notable awards||Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1984), Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award (2001)|
|Spouse||Ana Segarra (m. 1957)|
Many of his novels feature the interactions of members of the fictional Irish-American Phelan family and make use of incidents of Albany's history and the supernatural. Kennedy's works include The Ink Truck (1969), Legs (1975), Billy Phelan's Greatest Game (1978), Ironweed (1983, winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; movie, 1987), and Roscoe (2002).
In 2011, he published Changó's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, which one reviewer called a book "written with such brio and encompassing humanity that it may well deserve to be called the best of the bunch".
Kennedy was born and raised in Albany, New York, the son of William J. Kennedy and to Mary E. McDonald. Kennedy was raised a Catholic, and grew up in the North Albany neighborhood. He attended Public School 20 and Christian Brothers Academy. Kennedy studied at Siena College in Loudonville, New York, from which he graduated in 1949.
After serving in the US Army, Kennedy lived in Puerto Rico, where he met his mentor, Saul Bellow, who encouraged him to write novels. While living in San Juan, he befriended the journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson, a friendship that continued throughout their careers. Kennedy, who had been eager to leave Albany, returned to his hometown and worked for the Albany newspaper the Times Union as an investigative journalist, writing stories exposing activities of Daniel P. O'Connell and his political cronies of the dominant Democratic Party. His use of Albany as the setting for eight of his novels was described in 2011 by book critic Jonathan Yardley as painting "a portrait of a single city perhaps unique in American fiction".
He has written a nonfictional account of Albany, entitled O Albany!
- The Ink Truck. New York: Viking Press, 1969.
The Albany Cycle
- Legs. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1975.
- Billy Phelan's Greatest Game. New York: Viking Press, 1978.
- Ironweed. New York: Viking Press, 1983.
- Quinn's Book. New York: Viking Press, 1988.
- Very Old Bones. New York: Viking Press, 1992.
- The Flaming Corsage. New York: Viking Press, 1996.
- Roscoe. New York: Viking Press, 2002.
- Changó’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes. New York: Viking Adult, 2012.
- O Albany!: Improbable City of Political Wizards, Fearless Ethnics, Spectacular Aristocrats, Splendid Nobodies, and Underrated Scoundrels. New York: Viking Press, 1983.
- The Making of Ironweed. New York: Viking Penguin, 1988.
- Riding the Yellow Trolley Car. New York: Viking Press, 1993.
- The Cotton Club. Co-authored with Francis Ford Coppola. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1986.
- Ironweed. Tri-Star, 1987.
- Grand View. Premiered at Capital Repertory Theatre, Albany, New York, 1996.
- In the System. HumaniTech* Short Play Project Premiere, University at Albany, March 2003.
- Charlie Malarkey and the Belly Button Machine (co-authored with Brendan Kennedy). New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1986.
- Charlie Malarkey and the Singing Moose (co-authored with Brendan Kennedy). New York: Viking Children's Books, 1994.
- Flanagan, Thomas. O Albany!. New York Review of Books. April 25, 2002
- Giamo, Benedict F. The Homeless of Ironweed: Blossoms on the Crag. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1997.
- Gillespie, Michael Patrick. Reading William Kennedy. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.
- Lynch, Vivian Valvano. Portraits of Artists: Warriors in the Novels of William Kennedy. Bethesda: International Scholars Publications, 1999.
- Mallon, Thomas. William Kennedy's Greatest Game. The Atlantic Monthly. February 2002.
- Seshachari, Neila C. Courtesans, Stars, Wives, & Vixens: The Many Faces of Female Power in Kennedy's Novels, AWP Conference, Albany, NY. April 17, 1999.
- Marowski, Daniel G. and Matur, Roger, editors. "William Kennedy." Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 53, Detroit: Gale Research, 1989, pp. 189–201.
- Michener, Christian. From Then into Now: William Kennedy's Albany Novels. University of Scranton Press, 1998.
- Reilly, Edward C. Twayne's United States Authors Series: William Kennedy. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1991.
- Van Dover, J. K. Understanding William Kennedy. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1991.
- Seshachari, Neila C., editor. Conversations with William Kennedy. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1997.
In 2007 William Kennedy received the Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature award which is given annually in Rockville Maryland, the city where Fitzgerald, his wife, and his daughter are buried as part of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival.
- Sacks, Sam (October 1, 2011). "Corruption on the Hudson". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- Yardley, Jonathan (September 30, 2011). "'Changó's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes' by William Kennedy". Washington Post. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- Zachary Houle (January 1, 2013). "¡Viva la Revolución(s)! 'Changó's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes'". PopMatters.
- Douglas R. Allen, Mona Simpson (Winter 1989). "William Kennedy, The Art of Fiction No. 111". The Paris Review.
- Finding Aid for the Papers of William Kennedy,
- Audio recording of William Kennedy reading from unpublished works at the Key West Literary Seminar, 2009
- Write TV Public Television Interview with William Kennedy
- 2011 radio interview at The Bat Segundo Show
- M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University at Albany Libraries.
- New York State Writers Institute Biography of Kennedy, University at Albany.
- "Very Old Bones; Ironweed". Bookworm (Interview). Interviewed by Michael Silverblatt. KCRW. October 1992.
- "Roscoe". Bookworm (Interview). Interviewed by Michael Silverblatt. KCRW. April 2002.