Thomas E. Kennedy, an American Expatriate novelist, story writer and critic, will visit Converse College on November 16 as part of the Creative Writing program’s Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Visiting Writers series. The reading is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. in the Bain Room, Wilson Hall. A book signing will follow the reading. The event is free and open to the public.
Kennedy is the author of 26 books, including Unreal City, Realism & Other Illusions: Essays on the Craft of Fiction, and Kerrigan’s Copenhagen, Bluett’s Blue Hours, Danish Fall, and, most recently, In the Company of Angels, all set in his adopted home of Copenhagen, Denmark.
In the Company of Angels follows the interweaving stories of Bernardo Greene, a Chilean torture survivor, and Michela, a young Danish woman struggling to survive a violent marriage. The book was praised in reviews in The New Yorker and Chicago Tribune, among others. Jonathan Yeardley of The Washington Post had this to say about Kennedy’s novel and its exploration of the timely issue of torture: “In the Company of Angels is powerful and of the moment…I suspect it was inspired by torture conducted by the American government in Iraq and Guantanamo, but I didn’t detect a whiff of political or ideological posturing in it. Kennedy writes clean, evocative prose, and an occasional note of humor leavens this dark novel. He is a writer to be reckoned with, and it’s about time the reckoning got underway in the country of his birth.”
Kennedy’s short stories, poems, essays, interviews, reviews and translations from the Danish have appeared in hundreds of anthologies and periodicals in the U.S. and Europe, including O Henry Prize Stories, Pushcart Prize, The European, North American Review, New Letters, Kenyon Review, Sewanee Review, Southwest Review, Gettysburg Review, American Poetry Review and many others. Kennedy is the former International Editor of StoryQuarterly, an Advisory Editor to The Literary Review and currently a member of the fiction writing faculty in the MFA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
About Thomas Kennedy
A Queens, N.Y. native, Kennedy left the U.S. at the age of 30, landing first in Paris before eventually settling in Denmark in 1976 working for the International Department of the Danish Medical Association. He has lived there ever since. “In New York, I was working for the World Medical Association as a public relations assistant. When the organization decided to move its headquarters to France, I opted to go along. I was later invited to visit Copenhagen, and immediately fell in love with Denmark.”
Although he insists that the novels that make up his Copenhagen series are without autobiographical tendencies, there are similarities. “Very much like the main character in Kerrigan’s Copenhagen,” Kennedy says, “I am captivated by the history of Copenhagen. Throughout the book, I tried to weave in certain aspects of true Danish history and lore.” In the Copenhagen Quartet, Kennedy also gives a wink to Copenhagen’s large role in the development of jazz, philosophy and art. “In the ‘50s and ‘60s,” he says, “many American jazz artists sought refuge in Copenhagen for numerous reasons. It was there that Billy Strayhorn wrote the classic ‘Blood Count’ which was intended to be played by Duke Ellington at Carnegie Hall.”
Kennedy’s reading is sponsored by the Converse MFA and BFA Creative Writing programs and the Converse English Department. For more information, contact Rick Mulkey, Director of Creative Writing, at 864.596.9111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.