You never knew if the others would come. The custodian with the flat nose let them, for a price, and he listened, everyone knew he stood outside and listened, holding his own meat in his greasy hand. Sometimes you were asleep and then you woke, and it was the same dark but now you knew someone was there, three, four of them, in the dark, and you opened your mouth to scream, but it was covered so all you heard was your own muffled groaning and their breath, the muttered words.

—from A Passion in the Desert, by Thomas E. Kennedy

Highlights

Cover photo of Beneath the Neon Egg

Click image for audio (file is 7.6 megs)
Turell Introduction CD
[ Liner Notes]

Cover photo of Kerrigan in Copenhagen: A Love Story

Cover photo of Getting Lucky: New and Selected Stories, 1982-2012


Aegean Arts Circle:
Summer 2014 Creative Writing Workshops in Andros, Greece

June 25–July 4: Award-Winning Writer Thomas E. Kennedy

Join a small group of writers on Andros Island for intensive writing workshops. Writing sample required to be considered. For aspiring and published writers. Two partial scholarship contests available, and AAC’s first partial scholarship fund is available for writers who might not be able to participate otherwise.

See Workshops page at AAC website for details.

WC&C scholarship funds are also available via competition, with manuscripts accepted from 1 December through 30 March.

See AWP Scholarships for guidelines.

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The Copenhagen Quartet website

Designed and launched by Rosalie Herion in 2012, this site offers additional info about Kennedy’s series of novels about Denmark’s capital city.

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Bloomsbury Acquisition Announcement

(NOTE: External links open in a new, resizable window, making it convenient for you to return to browsing this site.)

Anton Mueller of Bloomsbury USA is pleased to announce the acquisition of In the Company of Angels, by Thomas E. Kennedy, one of four books comprising Kennedy’s Copenhagen Quartet. Although Kennedy’s novels are internationally acclaimed, his work has gone unnoticed by major US publishers until now.

In the Company of Angels was a 2007 winner of the Eric Hoffer Award for books from independent publishers, the judges writing that “why this was not one of the most widely read novels of 2004 is a mystery …It should be picked up immediately.”

Cover photo of In the Company of Angels, UK edition

Book Details

Kennedy discusses
the novel

Kennedy reads
from the novel

The Copenhagen Quartet comprises four independent novels, set in different seasons in the Danish capital city. In the Company of Angels is set in summer, focusing on two damaged characters struggling to heal and regain normalcy: Bernardo Greene has survived torture at the hands of Pinochet’s henchmen in Chile; Michela Ibsen has escaped a violently abusive husband. During Denmark’s long summer nights, their relationship unfolds as a testament to the resilience and complexity of the human heart.

2008 Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Dìaz praises the novel highly: “Thomas E. Kennedy is an astonishment, and In the Company of Angels is as elegant as it is beautiful, as important as it profound. A marvel of a read.”

And Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog, writes: “With generous and elegant prose, Kennedy takes us from the darkest, most violent regions of our collective behavior to our most exalted: our enduring hope for something higher, our need to forgive and be forgiven, our human hunger to love and be loved. [This is] a deeply stirring novel, suffused with intelligence, grace, and that rarest of qualities — written or otherwise — wisdom.”

Bloomsbury is committed to bringing Kennedy’s complete body of work — including novels, short stories, and essays — to a larger audience. In the Company of Angels will be published simultaneously by Bloomsbury USA and Bloomsbury UK in March 2010. A second novel from the Copenhagen Quartet will follow in Winter 2011.

[Update: Since this announcement was first published, all four novels of Kennedy’s Copenhagen Quartet series have been acquired by Bloomsbury. Three have been published in new editions, both in the USA and in the UK, and the fourth novel, Beneath the Neon Egg, is scheduled for release in August 2014.]

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Newest Books: In Manuscript

Now available for publication:

  • The Meeting with Evil: Inge Genefke’s Fight against Torture — Kennedy’s translation from the Danish of the book by distinguished political journalist, Thomas Larsen.
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  • Published in Copenhagen in 2005, the book’s subject is a Danish physician and humanitarian by the name of Inge Genefke. It includes a foreword by Tom Lantos, United States Congressman, himself the survivor of a camp during the Second World War; and an endorsement by Isabel Coixet, who directed a heartbreaking and hopeful film, The Secret Life of Words (2006), which deals, in large part, with the work of Inge Genefke.
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  • Also included in the book are endorsements by Tim Robbins and Sarah Pally who starred in The Secret Life of Words, as well as by Julie Christie, who portrayed Inge Genefke in the film.
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  • Dr. Inge Genefke is a Danish physician who has been fighting for more than 30 years against the use of torture, and on behalf of its victims to provide them treatment. She has received many awards and distinctions from many countries throughout the world for her efforts and has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her struggle is not political, but humanistic, apolitical. Her aim is to stop the torturers and help the tortured.
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  • New Letters magazine of the University of Missouri Kansas City ran a three-part series carved out of Kennedy’s translation of The Meeting with Evil. The series ran consecutively in the Fall 2007, Winter 2008, and Spring 2008 issues of New Letters (Volume 74, numbers 1, 2, and 3).
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  • In addition to the book excerpts in the New Letters series, you can learn more about Dr. Genefke, Thomas Larsen’s book about her and Kennedy’s translation of it, and organizations such as the United Nations Convention Against Torture, in the essay, “A Shout from Copenhagen 6: The Meeting with Evil.”
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Essays

NEWSFLASH: Kennedy Essay Wins National Magazine Award!

Judges choose “I Am Joe’s Prostate” from among six finalists for a 2008 National Magazine Award in the Essay category. Finalists also included essays by Walter Kim, Stephen King, Katrina Onstad, Tim Page, and Sallie Tisdale.

The 43rd annual National Magazine Awards, the magazine industry’s highest honor, were awarded at a gala event in New York City on the first of May. Named after the Alexander Calder Stabile “Elephant,” the 2008 “Ellies” represent a record-setting 1,964 entries from 333 print and online magazines.

“[The Essay category] recognizes excellence in essay writing on topics ranging from the personal to the political. Whatever the subject, emphasis should be placed on the author’s eloquence, perspective, fresh thinking and unique voice.” (American Society of Magazine Editors)

See complete list of categories and finalists.

See event photos at Media Bistro: To see Kennedy and Robert Stewart with the “Ellie” award, scroll down to the fourth photo under “Ellies ’08: Snapshots and Snippets.” Here’s the caption:

Writer Tom Kennedy got an Ellie for his New Letters essay “I Am Joe’s Prostate,” and he ain’t letting go. Related: He bad-assedly rocked that leopard fez at Ellie events all week.
Excerpt from the Washington Post, 2 May 2008:
Geographic Wins Again at Magazine Awards

By Peter Carlson, Washington Post Staff Writer

New Letters snagged the essay award for “I Am Joe’s Prostate” by Thomas E. Kennedy. “‘I Am Joe’s Prostate’ steals its title from the 1950s Reader’s Digest series, but Reader’s Digest was never like this,” the judges wrote. “Wince-inducing, outrageously honest and wickedly funny, Thomas Kennedy’s account of his prostate-cancer scare is essay writing at its most original. Laugh the whole way through, then ponder the subtext of medical testing gone haywire.”
We will pause at this point to enable our male readers to take a deep breath and compose themselves.

Read the full article.

Where You Can Find Kennedy’s Essay

“I Am Joe’s Prostate” appears in New Letters quarterly magazine, Volume 73, Issue Number 4. Read an excerpt…

This essay shares top billing for the New Letters Readers Award for the Essay, 2006-2007. See list of categories and winners.

Kudos for “I Am Joe’s Prostate”:

  • “Thank you, many times, for … ‘I am Joe’s Prostrate.’ It was achingly good. In all ways. Brilliant. A fabulous piece, and I hope that it will win New Letters The National Magazine Award next year for essay.”
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  • “[This essay is] dark and hilarious!”
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  • “I just read Kennedy’s essay … Not sure I have laughed that hard in weeks.”
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  • “… yesterday, I get home, and there’s New Letters waiting for me with your killer essay, ‘I Am Joe’s Prostate.’ Really, man, I just can’t get it out of my mind — maybe it’s my age, but also, as painful as the piece was to contemplate, it was just beautifully made. That’s all I can say.”
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  • “I thought maybe the essay was based on your own experience, but I was hoping not; it was so damn torturous just to read — to live it: man, you should get the purple heart!”
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  • “I laughed and laughed. I wonder if [my husband would] find it so funny. I thought it a stitch.”
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Additional Essays of Note

“The Junk We Carry” is featured in the May 2008 issue of The Writer magazine, which describes the article this way: “How an accomplished fiction writer found some of his best stories in notes, scraps and souvenirs.”

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“Who Says You Can’t Shift Point of View?” is featured in the October 2007 issue of The Writer magazine.

From The Writer, referring to Kennedy’s essay:  “Who says you can’t shift point of view? Our writer begs to differ on this old edict, and he’s not alone.”

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Interviews of Kennedy

Interview by Angela Elam for New Letters on the Air

Kennedy’s essay, “I Am Joe’s Prostate,” which was published by New Letters quarterly magazine, won the 2008 National Magazine Award in the category of essay.

On 12-12-08, in an interview with Angela Elam of New Letters on the Air, Kennedy talks about, and reads from, other essays in his 2008 collection, Riding the Dog: A Look Back at America.

Listen to the interview —podcast requires audio player software, such as Windows Media, Real Audio, Apple iTunes, etc.

Podcasting Help

Podcast includes the Web extra, in which Kennedy discusses the ramifications of winning the award. This episode of New Letters on the Air is also available on CD and cassette.

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Interview by Janet Skeslien Charles

Kennedy: “…And I am looking forward to speaking with my grandson, Leo Kennedy-Rye, when he begins to speak! I held him in my hands a few weeks ago and whispered to him, “Oh, Leo, you and I are going to be such good friends!” and he rewarded me with the biggest smile! That’s enough to stay alive for!”

Read the interview…

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Stories

“The Baboon Dream” appears in Issue 18 of Perigee.

“This is a strange fish of a story — with a monkey in it!” says Ellen Visson, four-time Pushcart nominee.


“Fellow Travelers” appears in the Summer 2007 issue of Glimmer Train. This is Kennedy’s fourth appearance in the journal: in Issues 10, 30, and 35 (which also includes an interview with him), and now in Issue 63.

“He remembered one Christmas dinner, when he was still new to the family, where he had excused himself from a table of smiling people to use the bathroom and returned to find them all on their feet, shouting at each other, some angrily pulling on overcoats, others weeping or arguing.”

—From “Fellow Travelers” by Thomas E. Kennedy
Excerpt appears on back cover of Issue 63 of Glimmer Train

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Translations

Uncle Danny Comes to America: The Great Dan Turèll in English at Last

Kennedy learned late last year that the poetry of the legendary Danish poet Dan Turèll (1946-1993) had never been translated into English. Therefore, with the blessing of Turèll’s widow, Chili Turèll, and support from the Literature Center of the Danish Arts Council, Kennedy began to translate the poems of one of Turèll’s central works, The Big City Trilogy, written in the mid-1970s.

Many of these poems are well-known and immensely popular in Denmark, not only among other poets, but among the people. Turèll, like T. S. Eliot, is a poet who had, and continues to have, a wide following among all levels of the population. His long, driving, rhythmic texts focus on ordinary moments of existence and make them unique. The reader walks through the city of Copenhagen with Uncle Danny — one of his self-styled personas — and sees illuminated in all its ordinary, every-day details the brief, strange experience of being alive.

The first three of the poems, several pages each, appear in New Letters magazine (Vol 75, Nos 2 & 3, 2009), along with an essay by Kennedy introducing Turèll and photographs of the poet (inter alia together with William S. Burroughs). A further three of the longer texts, along with another essay and photos, will appear in the fall 2009 issue of Absinthe: New European Writing. Additional works are expected to appear elsewhere in the near future.

At present Kennedy is researching the life of Turèll and interviewing people who knew him well — his widow, Chili, and some of his close friends, starting with the artist Barry Lereng Wilmont. Turèll was also a formidable performer and reader of his own work, which is written not only for the page but also, with its driving rhythms, for the human voice.

Kennedy has begun a series of readings to launch the translations — starting with half a dozen bookstores, cultural centers, and coffee houses in Copenhagen throughout the spring and early summer of 2009. When the poems have been more widely published in the U.S., he hopes to organize a series of readings there as well.

In the meantime, you’re invited to read Kennedy’s 11-11-08 blog entry,
“Dan Turèll’s 27-Year-Old Cigar”:

…I am here to tell you about Dan Turèll — a too-early late, great Danish poet — and his poet-actress widow, Chili. And I am here to tell you about Barry Lereng Wilmot, a Canadian-Danish artist-writer who fortunately is still very much whinnying with us. And I am here to tell you about a cigar, a Cohiba robusto, which I smoked today in the great Copenhagen serving house, Rosengaardens Bodega, where a Gestapo informer known as The Horsethief was liquidated on Hitler’s birthday, 1943 — a present for the Führer….
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Torture Series in New Letters:
The Meeting with Evil: Inge Genefke’s Fight against Torture

New Letters magazine of the University of Missouri Kansas City ran a three-part series carved out of Kennedy’s translation from the Danish of the book by Thomas Larsen entitled, The Meeting with Evil: Inge Genefke’s Fight against Torture. The series ran consecutively in the Fall 2007, Winter 2008, and Spring 2008 issues of New Letters (Volume 74, numbers 1, 2, and 3).

Inge Genefke is a Danish physician who has been fighting for more than 30 years against the use of torture, and on behalf of its victims to provide them treatment. She has received many awards and distinctions from many countries throughout the world for her efforts and has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her struggle is not political, but humanistic, apolitical. Her aim is to stop the torturers and help the tortured.

In addition to the excerpts from The Meeting with Evil that appear in the New Letters series, you can learn more about Dr. Genefke in the essay that follows, “A Shout from Copenhagen 6: The Meeting with Evil.”

(NOTE: The Medicine and Torture section at this website also includes links to sites about Dr. Genefke and rehabilitation of torture victims.)


A Shout from Copenhagen 6: The Meeting with Evil
Blog entry dated November 13, 2007
by Thomas E. Kennedy

“Now more than ever, the world needs to be told about the extent to which men, women and children are being subjected to torture. Thomas Larsen’s book about Inge Genefke’s Meeting with Evil and her 30-year fight against it bears that witness.”

— Tim Robbins, star of The Secret Life of Words

“Fifty years ago, the Nobel Laureate Albert Camus said, ‘For every man tortured, ten terrorists are born.’ Inge Genefke and the organizations she founded are working to help the victims and stop the torture. What better way to wage the war on terrorism?”

—Julie Christie, who plays Inge Genefke in The Secret Life of Words

“As Thomas Larsen says in his introduction to The Meeting with Evil, torture victims are the loneliest people in the world. Their tormentors inflict upon them excruciatingly painful abuse which they are helpless to defend themselves against and which can permanently damage or completely destroy their bodies and spirit. As the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the United States Congress, and one who has personally experienced a concentration camp during the Second World War, I feel compelled to ask, Who will speak out for these unfortunate human beings in their loneliness and suffering? It is a comfort and reassurance to know that there is at least one human being who has dedicated the major force of her adult life to doing so. That extraordinary woman is the subject of Mr. Larsen’s book — Dr. Inge Genefke, a Danish physician, an outstanding humanitarian, and a distinguished medical doctor who uses her training and compassion to bring healing to those who have endured the pain of torture.”

—Tom Lantos, United States Congressman (in his foreword to The Meeting with Evil)

 

I just dotted the last ‘i’ on the translation of a book which was at one and the same time terribly distressing and enormously heartening to work with. Translating it into English made the horrific things described in it seem to be unfolding in slow motion and the courageous fight against these things, also related in the book, awesomely heroic.

In English, the book — which is currently in search of a publisher — will be titled, The Meeting with Evil, and subtitled Inge Genefke’s Fight against Torture. The book was written in Danish by the distinguished political journalist, Thomas Larsen, and published in Copenhagen in 2005. Its subject is a Danish physician by the name of Inge Genefke.

The book includes a foreword by Tom Lantos, United States Congressman, himself the survivor of a camp during the Second World War, as well as endorsements by Isabel Coixet who directed a heartbreaking and hopeful film dealing, in large part, with the work of Inge Genefke, and Tim Robbins and Sarah Pally who starred in that film, The Secret Life of Words (2006), as well as Julie Christie, who portrayed Inge Genefke in the film.

Inge Genefke has devoted the past half of her 68 years fighting against torture and struggling to ensure that the world is aware of the terrifying extent to which torture is being employed throughout the world as well as to see to it that care is provided for those whose lives have been broken by these crimes against humanity and to fight against the continuing existence of this inhumanity.

Her efforts and those of her colleagues have resulted in a situation where undeniable evidence now exists to disprove the lies of those political and military regimes who seek to deny the fact that torture of the most heinous sort not only exists but is being widely employed. Employed — as Inge Genefke states — not to obtain information really, but to eradicate the personalities of courageous individuals taking a stand in society. “Torture,” she says, “does not produce reliable information. Under torture, a person will say anything to make the torture stop, will confess to crimes he knows nothing about, will sign blank pages to make the pain stop.”

Inge Genefke’s efforts and those of her colleagues have resulted in the establishment of two centers for rehabilitation and research against torture in Copenhagen which formed the model for scores of other centers throughout the world, providing treatment for hundreds of thousands of victims and gathering research for the treatment of the victims as well as evidence which can be used to prove that torture is in use and produced in court against those responsible.

The pages of Thomas Larsen’s book are filled with equal parts of horror and hope and contain a portrait of the woman who has had the courage and tenacity to fight for all these years against this ugliness. Inge Genefke provides the hope. It is encouraging to know that there exists a force in the world willing to confront this evil — she and her husband, Dr. Bent Sørensen, and all her colleagues at Copenhagen’s Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, and those throughout the world who have been trained and aided by them in their own fight against torture and struggle to help its victims.

Inge Genefke has received many awards and distinctions from many countries throughout the world for her efforts and has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her struggle is not political, but humanistic, apolitical. Her aim is to stop the torturers and help the tortured.

Thanks to the United Nations Convention against Torture — which is also analyzed in Thomas Larsen’s book — torture, for all signatory countries, is a crime without a statute of limitations and one which can be tried anywhere, not only in the country where it has been committed. And the effects of this have already been seen. Torturers like Augusto Pinochet are no longer safe to travel freely in the world, enjoying the profits they have reaped from their activities. There is no more immunity for such people. Torturers, from the top on down through the hierarchy, are no longer safe in their misdeeds. A soldier or military policeman or “special adviser” is no longer free to claim that he was only following orders. The UN Convention makes it clear that such orders are unlawful and that it is unlawful to obey them.

The distinguished, 70-year-old literary magazine, New Letters, published by the University of Missouri Kansas City and edited by Robert Stewart, beginning with its Autumn 2007 issue, will publish a series of articles with excerpts from Thomas Larsen’s book about Inge Genefke. For a preview of what will appear in the book, readers are invited to read those issues of New Letters.

At the same time, a forthcoming on-line publication, Exploring Globalization, co-edited by Walter Cummins (who also edits The Literary Review, currently celebrating its 50th anniversary), will include in its inaugural number my interview with Inge Genefke and Bent Sørensen.

Readers with questions about this important topic, publishers who are interested in acquiring the English translation of this book, and periodicals interested in articles or interviews are invited to contact me via this blog or my website.

(NOTE: This essay also appears in the blog at Absinthe New European Writing, dated November 13, 2007.)

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A Shout From Copenhagen: Kennedy’s Blog

Link to Kennedy’s Blog at MySpace

Link to Kennedy’s Blog at Absinthe: New European Writing

Link to Kennedy’s Blog at Blogspot

7 October 2007: Kennedy launches a weekly blog at MySpace: A Shout From Copenhagen. The first entry is entitled, “Visit to an Open Prison.”

Kennedy invites MySpace members to subscribe to A Shout From Copenhagen and looks forward to reading their comments. Non-members are welcome to preview this blog before deciding whether to join the community. Joining MySpace and subscribing to this blog are both free.

6 November 2007: Kennedy’s blog is “syndicated” via Blogspot and Absinthe: New European Writing.

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AWP Panel on Kennedy’s Work

In March of 2007, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) at its annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) sponsored a panel on Kennedy’s fiction, entitled, “Thomas E. Kennedy: A Lifetime in Literature.”

At the panel, six professors, writers, and editors spoke about various aspects of Kennedy’s work. Those presentations by Duff Brenna, Robert Stewart, Walter Cummins, Gladys Swan, Michael Lee, and Greg Herriges will be published in the coming months in South Carolina Review, New Letters magazine, Cimarron Review, and Perigee.

The Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 issues of South Carolina Review include a focus on Kennedy’s work, including a full 29-page bibliography, an in-depth interview, several essays and photographs, and original fiction by Kennedy.

  • Editors’ Forum
    Appears in South Carolina Review, Issue 40.1, Fall 2007

    NOTE: Both of the following essays are published online in a single PDF document, “Editors’ Forum,” with the essay by Stewart appearing on the first two pages of the document.

    “Passing the Test of Time: The Essays of Thomas E. Kennedy”
    by Robert Stewart

    “The Revelation of Character Inside Out: Stream of Consciousness Techniques in the Work of Thomas E. Kennedy”
    by Walter Cummins
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  • A View from Across the Sea
    Interview of Thomas E. Kennedy by Melanie Tortoroli
    Appears in South Carolina Review, Issue 40.1, Fall 2007

    This in-depth interview (9500 words) with Kennedy about his experience as an expatriate writer was conducted by Melanie Tortoroli as a Harvard senior project.
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  • “Let Everyone Forget Everyone”
    Excerpt from Kennedy’s novel, Danish Fall
    Appears in South Carolina Review, Issue 40.2, Spring 2008
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  • View excerpt at the Clemson University website.

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