William Kennedy Wins Eugene O’Neill Award

By Kara Rota, Contributor
October /November 2009

Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Kennedy will be presented with the inaugural 2009 Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish American Writers and Artists, Inc. (IAW&A) in Manhattan on October 16, Eugene O’Neill’s birthday.

As the first winner of the award, Kennedy is honored for his authorship of the Albany Cycle of novels centered around the Irish-American Phelan family (“Legs,” “Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game” and “Ironweed”) as well as his additional five novels, three non-fiction works, and two screenplays, not to mention stage plays, essays and children’s books.

Kennedy won a 1984 Pulitzer Prize for “Ironweed.”

The Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award will be given annually to an Irish-American writer or other artist whose body of work, like Eugene O’Neill’s, represents the pinnacle of creative achievement.

William Kennedy remarked, “I never made plans to be Irish, and I never thought of myself as an Irish-American writer. Just a writer was how I saw it. But after getting this award I’m now irrevocably confirmed as both.

“I’m abundantly grateful to the Irish American Writers and Artists for singling out my work, and the fact that Eugene O’Neill’s illustrious name goes with it is magical. He was one of my heroes when I began as a writer, and he still is today. His work shines with a perpetual light, as the Irish say in church. This is a wonderful honor.”

For more information, visit www.oneillaward.org.

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