A. L. Kennedy

Portrait A. L. Kennedy
© Hartwig Klappert

A.L. Kennedy was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1965. After leaving school she studied drama at Warwick University and during this time began writing her first short stories and dramatic monologues. She then served as a community arts worker at a youth centre in Glasgow and worked, among other things, with pr isoners before becoming a Writer in Residence at this organisation as well as at a charitable institute for the arts, whose management committee she was a member of until 2002.
Her career as a writer, filmmaker and dramatic advisor was launched parallel to her social work and she has been writing articles and reviews for newspapers such as »Scotsman«, »Glasgow Herald«, »Telegraph« and »Irish Times« since 1990. She has been writing a column as political commentator for »The Guardian« since 2000 and spoke out vehemently against the Iraq war. Meanwhile, she has also written a large number of plays for theatre and radio, documentaries, television scripts and series, some of which have been performed at the Edinburgh Festival and been broadcast by the BBC. She has edited various anthologies, among them »New Writing Scotland« (1993-95) and »Cool Britannia« (2006), in which she introduced young writers to a wider reading public.
Kennedy is known above all for her much-acclaimed short stories and novels, which make her a leading voice in contemporary British literature. Her work deals with the themes of sex, violence, faith and death with a verve admired by readers and critics alike and is characterized by an astonishing blend of exhilaration and darkness, empathy and cynicism. Psychic depths and psychological mechanisms are limned with confident eloquence, dialogues drawn with unflinching marksmanship. The novel »Original Bliss« (1997) tells of a woman’s flight from a hellish marriage. Her fascination with a counseling guru from radio and television, who turns out to be similarly lacking as her violent husband when she meets him personally, actually ends, miraculously, on a happy note. Kennedy opens the book of non-fiction »On Bullfighting« (1999) with an autobiographical scene in which she depicts how a tacky Scottish folksong foils her suicide attempt. From 2005 onwards she began taking more and more pleasure in the comic aspects of horror through her ventures into stand-up comedy, performing regularly at a club in Glasgow and as a guest at the Edinburgh Festival. In 2007 her current novel »Day« was published. It is concerned with a young soldier in World War II who loses his sense of purpose once the war has ended.
Among her many distinctions Kennedy has been awarded the Somerset Maugham Award as well as the Scottish Arts Council Book Award – five times – and was twice named one of the »twenty best young British writers« by the journal »Granta«. She has served as a member of the juries of the Booker Prize, the Guardian First Book Prize and the Orange Prize and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Society of Literature. She lives in Glasgow.

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