Joe D'Cruz was born in a Roman Catholic Parathavar family in Uvari, a coastal village in Tirunelveli District of Tamilnadu. He did his schooling in Uvari and Idaiyangudi. He graduated with an M.A.(Economics) at Loyola College, Chennai and did his M.Phil at St. Joseph's College, Tiruchirapalli. He is married to Sasikala and has two children. He has been working in the shipping industry for more than two decades.
Joe D'Cruz published a Tamil poetry compilation, Pulambazhkal, in 2004. His Sahitya Akademi award-winning novel Korkai was originally published in 2009 and prior to that his 2005 novel Aazhi Soozh Ulagu was awarded the Tamilnadu state government literary award and Tamil Literary Garden award. Both his novels are based on history and the lives of Parathavar fishermen of Tamil Nadu. The first novel Aazhi Soozh Ulagu dealt with the lives of fishermen who used catamarans and their conversion to Christianity. The second novel titled Korkai refers to Korkai, an ancient port city ruled by Early Pandyan Kingdom. It documented 20th-century history of the people in the region. It considered as the well researched historical novel.
He also filmed documentary films such as Vidiyatha Pozhuthukal (2008), Towards Dawn (2010). His films mostly based on sufferings of Tamil fishermen. He wrote the dialogue for Tamil movie Maryan. He opposed Kudankulam nuclear power project, arguing it will affect the livelihood of the fishermen.
- "என் ஊர்!" (in Tamil). Ananda Vikatan. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
- "ஆர்.என்.ஜோ–டி–குரூஸ்". Dina Thanthi (in Tamil). 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
- "Joe D'Cruz wins Sahitya Akademi award". Deccan Chronicle. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
- "Sailing high as a writer". The Hindu. 25 July 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
- "KORKAI". Archaeological Survey of India. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
- "The Parathavas have come full circle". The New Indian Express. 2 January 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
- "Sons of the sea show true grit". The Hindu. 2 December 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2013.