PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING NOVELIST, TO READ FROM HIS NEW NOVEL, CHANGÓ’S BEADS AND TWO-TONE SHOES
NYS Writers Institute, October 3, 2011
In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said, “Kennedy’s journalistic training is manifest in a clear, sure voice that swiftly guides the reader through a rich, multilayered, refreshingly old-school narrative. Thick with backroom deal making and sharp commentary on corruption, Kennedy’s novel describes a world he clearly knows, and through plenty of action, careful historical detail, and larger-than-life characters, he brilliantly brings it to life.”
Changó’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes is Kennedy’s first novel since Roscoe (2002), a tale of early 20th century Albany city politics that was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Writing in the Atlantic Monthy, Thomas Mallon called it, “the best novel of city-hall politics to appear in ages…. This new book has a lyricism and a gusto rarely achieved in serious American novels about politics, which are rare to begin….”
Kennedy received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983 for the novel Ironweed, one of several novels in what has become known as the “Albany Cycle” (1975-2011). Other novels in the cycle include Legs (1975), Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game (1978), Quinn’s Book (1988), Very Old Bones (1992),and The Flaming Corsage (1996). “What James Joyce did for Dublin and Saul Bellow did for Chicago, William Kennedy has done for Albany, New York…. His cycle of Albany novels is one of the great resurrections of place in our literature,” said James Atlas in Vogue.
Born in 1928 in Albany’s North End, Kennedy attended Public School 20, the Christian Brother’s Academy, and Siena College prior to pursuing a career in journalism. He joined the Post Star, in Glens Falls as a sports reporter and, after being drafted in 1950, worked for an army newspaper in Europe. Upon his discharge he joined the Albany Times-Union. In 1956 he accepted a job with a newspaper in Puerto Rico. Kennedy became managing editor of the fledgling San Juan Star in 1959. He quit two years later to write fiction, and eventually returned to Albany in 1963, rejoining the Times Union as an investigative journalist writing principally about politics, corruption and city life.
Kennedy taught creative writing and journalism as an instructor from 1974 to 1982 at the University at Albany. After the publication of Ironweed, Kennedy was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1983, part of which was used to found the Writers Institute at the University.
Just prior to Kennedy’s reading, the Writers Institute will screen the new WMHT
The local broadcast of the documentary will coincide with the release of the new national PBS series by Ken Burns entitled, Prohibition: America’s Greatest Experiment.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.