William Joseph Kennedy is an American writer and journalist born and raised in Albany, New York to William J. Kennedy and to Mary E. McDonald. Kennedy was raised a Catholic. Many of his novels feature the interaction of members of the fictional Irish-American Phelan family, and make use of incidents of Albany's history and the supernatural. Kennedy's works include The Ink Truck, Legs, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, Ironweed, and Roscoe. In 2011, he published ChangÃ³'s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, which one reviewer called, a book "written with such brio and encompassing humanity that it may well deserve to be called the best of the bunch."
He is a graduate of Siena College in Loudonville, New York and currently resides at Averill Park, a hamlet about 16 miles east of Albany. After serving in the Army, Kennedy lived in Puerto Rico where he met his mentor, Saul Bellow, who encouraged him to write novels. While living in San Juan, he befriended journalist/author Hunter S. Thompson, a friendship that continued throughout their careers. Kennedy, who had been eager to leave Albany, returned to his hometown and worked for the Albany Times Union as an investigative journalist writing stories exposing activities of the O'Connell political machine. His use of Albany as the setting for eight of his novels was described in 2011 by book critic Jonathan Yardley as painting "a portrait of a single city perhaps unique in American fiction."