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Book Cover for: Ironweed, William Kennedy


William Kennedy

Reader Score


77% of readers

recommend this book

Winner:National Book Critics Circle Award -Fiction (1983)
Winner:Pulitzer Prize -Fiction (1984)
"[W]ith Ironweed, William Kennedy is making American literature."--The Washington Post Book World

Francis Phelan has hit bottom. More than twenty years ago, the ex-ballplayer, part-time gravedigger, and full-time bum with the gift of gab left Albany after a tragic accident. Now, in 1938, Francis is back in town and faced with the wife and home he abandoned, roaming the old familiar streets, trying to make peace with the ghosts of the past and present. Winner of the Pultizer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Ironweed "goes straight for the throat and the funnybone" (The New York Times).

William Kennedy's Albany Cycle of novels reflect what he once described as the fusion of his imagination with a single place. A native and longtime resident of Albany, New York, his work moves from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, chronicling family life, the city's netherworld, and its spheres of power--financial, ethnic, political--often among the Irish-Americans who dominated the city in this period. The novels in his cycle include, Legs, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, Ironweed, Quinn's Book, Very Old Bones, The Flaming Corsage, and Roscoe.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • Publish Date: Feb 7th, 1984
  • Pages: 227
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 7.76in - 5.16in - 0.45in - 0.37lb
  • EAN: 9780140070200
  • Recommended age: 18-UP
  • Categories: LiterarySagasHistorical - General

About the Author

William Kennedy, author, screenwriter and playwright, was born and raised in Albany, New York. Kennedy brought his native city to literary life in many of his works. The Albany cycle, includes Legs, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, and the Pulitzer Prize winning Ironweed.The versatile Kennedy wrote the screenplay for Ironweed, the play Grand View, and cowrote the screenplay for the The Cotton Club with Francis Ford Coppola. Kennedy also wrote the nonfiction O Albany! and Riding the Yellow Trolley Car. Some of the other works he is known for include Roscoe and Very Old Bones.

Kennedy is the founding director of the New York State Writers Institute and, in 1993, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has received numerous literary awards, including the Literary Lions Award from the New York Public Library, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Governor's Arts Award. Kennedy was also named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in France and a member of the board of directors of the New York State Council for the Humanities.

Praise for this book

"Rich in plot and dramatic tension . . . almost Joycean in its variety of rhetoric . . . the novel goes straight for the throat and the funnybone."
- The New York Times

"Astonishing . . . Kennedy's ambitious vision and soaring imaginative powers make this book one of the richest, most startling, and most satisfying novels of recent years."
- The Philadelphia Inquirer

"A beautifully sorrowful novel. Kennedy asks us again to confront the mystery of human behavior. And as he illuminates it, we share in one's man's struggle to understand his life."
- The Washington Post

"Kennedy's power is such that the reader will follow him almost anywhere, to the edge of tragedy and back again to redemption."
- The Wall Street Journal