Until now, Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Kennedy’s literary legacy has never been celebrated in one book. From novels such as Ironweed, Legs, and Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game (the Albany Cycle) to Bootlegger of the Soul screenplays like The Cotton Club, as well as his many years of investigative journalistic work, Suzanne Lance and Paul Grondahl, have compiled reviews, essays, and interviews about Kennedy’s contributions to the literary landscape in the new book from SUNY Press, Bootlegger of the Soul. Also included is original writing by the author himself – a play and a short story.
This collection, published in the author’s ninetieth year, is a portrait of the award-winning writer whose work has put Albany, NY on the world’s literary map.
“Editing this book was a labor of love,” said Grondahl, Director of the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany. “My colleague Suzanne Lance, Associate Director of the New York State Writers Institute, and I work closely at the Writers Institute with Bill Kennedy, the founder of our literary organization, and we have both called Bill a colleague and friend for more than thirty years. The selection process was a challenge, because Bill’s own writing is voluminous and others have written extensively about his books. Having worked with Bill’s writing line by line, intensely and at close range during the editing process, Suzanne and I concur with Saul Bellow’s assessment: ‘There are no dead sentences in Bill’s work.'”
“We are proud of our collaboration with SUNY Press and the publication of this book represents a new initiative as we endeavor to make the Writers Institute at the University at Albany, recognized as one of the country’s premier literary organizations, a world-class organization that takes our University to a new level of excellence. In the same way that Bill’s Albany Cycle of novels put Albany on the world’s literary map, we hope this book takes the Writers Institute and SUNY Press to new heights.”
SUNY Press Co-Directors, James Peltz and Donna Dixon, both stated, “Through his books, Bill Kennedy has brought the city of Albany and its rich history to readers across the country and around the world. It’s a special honor for SUNY Press to be publishing this book, located as we are at the corner of State and Pearl, where the shades of Legs Diamond and Francis Phelan and so many other of Kennedy’s colorful characters still pass by on a daily basis. We’re also proud to be partnering with the New York State Writers Institute, one of the crown jewels in the SUNY system. This book would not have been possible without their wholehearted support and dedication.”