William Kennedy

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Kennedy, William,

1928–, American novelist, b. Albany, N.Y., grad. Siena College, 1949. Brought up in Albany, he worked as a journalist from 1949 to 1970, and began to concentrate on writing fiction in the early 1960s. In evocative prose, with vivid characterizations and acutely observed dialog, Kennedy's novels mingle history with myth, politics with the personal, and lyricism with squalor. His work is inextricably bound up with his hometown, which has provided rich subject matter for most of his fiction, including his best-known novel, Ironweed (1983; National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize; film, 1987), the tale of an alcoholic former major-league pitcher who ekes out an existence in the city's skid-row district in the 1930s. Kennedy's other Albany cycle novels are The Ink Truck (1969), Legs (1975), Billy Phelan's Greatest Game (1978), Quinn's Book (1988), The Flaming Corsage (1996), Roscoe (2001), and Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes (2011). He has also written other novels; essays, some of which were collected in O Albany! (1983) and Riding the Yellow Trolley Car (1993); a play and screenplays; and children's books. Kennedy has taught at the University at Albany–SUNY since 1973.
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Kennedy, William

(1928–  ) writer; born in Albany, N.Y. He studied at Siena College (B.A. 1949) and had a long career in journalism in Glen Falls, Albany, San Juan, Miami, and Puerto Rico. Beginning in 1974 he taught at State University of New York: Albany. His early novels, such as Legs (1975) and Billy Phelan's Greatest Game (1978), part of his Albany series, remained largely unnoticed until the publication of Ironweed (1983). In 1984 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and his previous novels were reissued. A projected series based in New York City, Quinn's Book, was published in 1988.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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