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Patrick Radden Keefe

Patrick Radden Keefe discusses his approach to long-form journalism & how he crafts real-life characters in his works of nonfiction.

In this episode of The Archive Project, we feature journalist Patrick Radden Keefe from a Portland Arts & Lectures event in February 2023. Keefe is the author of five books of nonfiction, most recently Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Rebels, and Crooks, a collection of essays from his work as a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. NPR called Rogues “a wonderful book, not only because Keefe’s prose is masterful, but because he has a preternatural gift for reading people. He recognizes that we’re all unreliable narrators of our own lives, and writes about his subjects with a keen sense of understanding.”

He is also the author of Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Mystery in Northern Ireland, as well as Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty.

In this talk, Keefe speaks to his writing process of what his editor termed “investigative melodrama.” He is drawn in by fascinating real-life characters like Arthur Sackler of Empire of Pain and Dolours Price of Say Nothing as way to explore, as he says, “the arbitrary lines we draw between what’s legal and illegal, what society sanctions and celebrates and what it condemns and punishes.”

We’re including the full event intro and Q&A in this extended version of this episode, since many subscribers couldn’t make it to the concert hall due to the extraordinary weather–Portland experienced an unexpected and historic, record-setting snowstorm the evening of the event.

As a special feature, we start the episode with a short reading from Oregon-based writer, Stephan Nance. Nance was awarded the Edna L. Holmes Fellowship in Young Readers from Literary Arts in 2023. Their reading is a selection from their Young Adult novel-in-progress, A Bird in the Heart, which they describe as a “very birdy young adult novel set in Eastern Oregon”.

Find your copy of Patrick Radden Keefe’s books through

Patrick Radden Keefe is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author, most recently, of the New York Times bestseller Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, was selected as one of the ten best books of 2019 by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and The Wall Street Journal, and was named one of the top ten nonfiction books of the decade by Entertainment Weekly. His previous books are The Snakehead and Chatter. His work has been recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing and the Orwell Prize for Political Writing. He is also the creator and host of the eight-part podcast Wind of Change.

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