Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 1
Spring 2010

In the Company of Angels
[Excerpt + Reviews]

by Thomas E. Kennedy

The first two chapters from the novel:
“A Car Door Slams” and “The Place of Screaming”

Excerpts from Reviews

Thomas E. Kennedy is an astonishment, and In the Company of Angels is as elegant as it is beautiful, as important as it is profound. A marvel of a read.

—Junot Dìaz, Pulitzer Prize Winner for fiction, 2008

It probably doesn’t reflect glowingly on American expat Kennedy’s native country that this watershed novel is the first to be published in the U.S. after a decade of acclaim abroad. Why it’s taken so long is anyone’s guess.... Kennedy’s respect for his characters and startlingly tender regard for basic humanity color what is in effect a high-concept love story resonant with, as Nardo says, “The produce...of our lives.”

Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

Investigating the effects of brutality on the human soul, Kennedy does not allow himself to become overwhelmed by the subject’s gravity. He does not preach or condemn; instead, he offers two exquisitely crafted characters a chance to explore the legacy of inhumanity and to enact a drama of resilience—redemption, even.... An artfully written story with a conscience.

Kirkus Reviews

In this work, Chilean exile Bernardo Greene believes that after months of torture at the hands of the Pinochet regime, he was visited by angels who promised that he would survive to experience once again the sun on his face, beauty, and love. Greene is recovering and in therapy in Copenhagen when he meets Michela Ibsen, a Dane who is struggling to heal from domestic abuse and her daughter’s suicide. VERDICT: Kennedy writes with unusual insight and compassion, depicting the best and the worst of the human experience. His work may be new to U.S. readers, but it merits greater attention, and we should look forward to seeing the other three books in his quartet published here. A great choice for readers of literary fiction.

Library Journal

What a gorgeous novel this is! 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.

—Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog

The combination of subtle, beautiful prose and searingly painful realities make In the Company of Angels a story that lingers in the intellect as pervasively as in the heart. An astonishing, wise novel of our times.

—Liz Jensen, author of The Rapture, The Ninth Life of Louis Drax

A terrific book. Mr Kennedy writes beautifully and thoughtfully about the horrors that we humans inflict upon our bodies, and more dangerously upon our vulnerable minds. We all come safely through, protagonists and readers.

—Jennifer Johnston, author of The Illusionist

Wise and astonishingly beautiful.... Despite its unflinching look at humanity’s greatest horrors, this masterful novel eventually passes beyond terror, and the reader is left contemplating the healing powers of kind daughters, ministering angels and the sad beauty of Danish summer.

Kansas City Star

Powerful sprinkles of flashback and review which evoke the unreal nightmare of torture.... A Consummate exploration of the themes of violence, religion in modern Europe, the rise of antisocial tendencies in the great social democracies, and love...[this novel] lacks nothing.... Kennedy is a master craftsman....

Books Ireland

Both a riveting examination of the violence we’ve come to take for granted, and an unsentimental, morally complex love story. Thomas Kennedy tackles the darkest of subjects, but with searing precision and grace, and with such feeling for ordinary humanity, that this book is full of light.

—Rene Steinke, author of Holy Skirts

In a masterfully constructed narrative, Kennedy leads the reader through the lives of [the characters] and intertwines them into an utterly compelling tale.... He reveals the unspoken words and desires, the fierce determination of the human heart, and the possibility of healing.

BookView Ireland

Destinies meet at one another’s crossroads in the third part of this American, Danish-resident author’s moody noir quartet about Copenhagen.... Kennedy is well on his way to placing the Danish capital city on the international literary map...

—Five-star review in Euroman

An elegy to the human heart...a glorious novel by a modern master.

Irish Edition

[Kennedy] has populated his fictional Copenhagen with American daydreamers, Russian prostitutes, and Arabian Muslims.... [In the Company of Angels] unfolds as a love triangle between Bernardo Greene, a Chilean torture victim being treated in Copenhagen, Michela Ibsen who has come out of a violent marriage, and her new lover Voss Andersen who is caught in his own sexual obsession. On Copenhagen’s streets...Bernardo and Michela bump into one another and attempt to find out if they dare fall in love.

Information (Copenhagen)

Tragic, wise, comic, profound, [In the Company of Angels] is an epic of the human heart struggling for meaning and redemption.

Rain Taxi

A terrible, wonderful, horrible, truthful, heartbreaking and heart-mending book. The word masterpiece should never be used lightly, but this one is exactly that, a masterpiece written by a master. How can anyone know so much about the human heart?

—Duff Brenna, author of Too Cool, The Book of Mamie, and The Altar of the Body

It has been said that no language exists to describe the experience of that greatest of all traumas—torture—the attempt to erase a human being’s personality by the willful infliction of intense physical and psychological pain. But Thomas E. Kennedy’s novel In the Company of Angels, with the great talent of an artist, has created a language which brilliantly describes not only the intense loneliness and distress of those who have survived torture, but also the struggle, hope and possibility of their healing. This novel is highly recommended for anyone seeking insight into this horror and this hope.

—Dr. Inge Genefke, Ambassador, International Research Council for Torture Victims

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury