T. C. Boyle

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T. C. Boyle
T. C. Boyle at the Leipzig Book Fair 2009
T. C. Boyle at the Leipzig Book Fair 2009
BornThomas John Boyle
(1948-12-02) December 2, 1948 (age 75)
Peekskill, New York, U.S.
EducationState University of New York at Potsdam (BA)
University of Iowa Writers' Workshop (MFA)
University of Iowa (PhD)[1][2]
GenreNovels, comic novels
Notable awardsPEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, 1988

Thomas Coraghessan Boyle (born December 2, 1948) is an American novelist and short story writer. Since the mid-1970s, he has published nineteen novels and more than 150 short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988,[3] for his third novel, World's End, which recounts 300 years in upstate New York.

He was previously a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.[1]

Early life[edit]

Boyle grew up in Peekskill, New York.[4] His name was originally Thomas John Boyle; he changed his middle name to Coraghessan when he was 17 after an ancestor of his mother.[5] He received a B.A. in English and History from the State University of New York at Potsdam (1968), an M.F.A. (1974) from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and a Ph.D. (1977) from the University of Iowa.[1][2]

Literary characteristics[edit]

In Understanding T. C. Boyle, Paul William Gleason writes, "Boyle's stories and novels take the best elements of Carver's minimalism, Barth's postmodern extravaganzas, García Márquez's magical realism, O'Connor's dark comedy and moral seriousness, and Dickens' entertaining and strange plots and brings them to bear on American life in an accessible, subversive, and inventive way."[6]

Many of Boyle's novels and short stories explore the baby boom generation, its appetites, joys, and addictions. His themes, such as the often-misguided efforts of the male hero and the slick appeal of the anti-hero, appear alongside brutal satire, humor, and magical realism. His fiction also explores the ruthlessness and the unpredictability of nature and the toll human society unwittingly takes on the environment.[7] His novels include World's End (1987, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction); The Road to Wellville (1993);[8] and The Tortilla Curtain (1995, winner of France's Prix Médicis étranger).[9][citation needed]

Boyle has published eleven collections of short stories, including Descent of Man (1979), Greasy Lake (1985), If the River Was Whiskey (1989), and Without a Hero (1994). His short stories frequently appear in the major American magazines, including The New Yorker,[10] Harper's,[11] Esquire,[12] The Atlantic Monthly[13] and Playboy,[14] as well as on the radio show Selected Shorts.[15]


Boyle has said Gabriel García Márquez is his favorite novelist. He is also a fan of Flannery O'Connor[16] and Robert Coover.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Boyle is married to Karen Kvashay. They have three children and live in Montecito near Santa Barbara, California.[2] Their home was imperiled in the 2017 Thomas Fire which consumed 440 square miles and over 1,000 structures in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, killing a firefighter in the latter. The fires denuded drought-stricken hillsides of vegetation and torrential rains in January 2018 subsequently dislodged immense boulders and precipitated mudslides which destroyed over one hundred homes and killed almost two dozen of his neighbors. Over 10,000 people were evacuated from Montecito as a result of the sequence of natural disasters. Boyle extensively documented both calamities on his website, and additionally in an article for The New Yorker.[18]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines Fiction Award for the Short Story, 1977.
  • National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, 1977.
  • The St. Lawrence Award for Fiction, best story collection of the year, 1980 (Descent of Man).
  • The Paris Review's Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, 1981 ("Mungo Among the Moors," excerpt from Water Music).
  • National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, 1983.
  • The Paris Review's John Train Humor Prize, 1984 ("The Hector Quesadilla Story").
  • Commonwealth of California, Silver Medal for Literature, 55th Annual Awards, 1986 (Greasy Lake).
  • Editors' Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of the 16 best books of the year, 1987 (World's End).
  • Guggenheim Fellowship, 1988.
  • PEN/Faulkner Award, best novel of the year, 1988, for World's End.
  • O. Henry Award, 1988. "Sinking House," from The Atlantic Monthly.
  • Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal for Literature, best novel of the year, 57th annual awards, 1988 (World's End).
  • O. Henry Award, 1989. "The Ape Lady in Retirement," from The Paris Review.
  • Prix Passion publishers' prize, France, for best novel of the year, 1989 (Water Music).
  • PEN Center West Literary Prize, best short story collection of the year, 1989 (If the River Was Whiskey).
  • Editors' Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of the 13 best books of the year, 1989 (If the River Was Whiskey).
  • Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree, State University of New York, 1991.
  • Howard D. Vursell Memorial Award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters, for prose excellence, 1993.
  • Best American Stories selection, 1997. "Killing Babies," from The New Yorker.
  • Prix Médicis Étranger, Paris, for the best foreign novel of the year, 1997 (The Tortilla Curtain).
  • O.Henry Award, 1999. "The Underground Gardens," from The New Yorker.
  • The Bernard Malamud Prize in Short Fiction from the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, 1999, for T.C. Boyle Stories, the Collected Stories.
  • O.Henry Award, 2001. "The Love of My Life," from The New Yorker.
  • Southern California Booksellers' Association Award for best fiction title of the year, 2002, for After the Plague.
  • National Book Award Finalist, Drop City, 2003.
  • O. Henry Award, 2003. "Swept Away," from The New Yorker.
  • Editors' Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of 9 best books of the year, 2003.
  • Best American Stories selection, 2004. "Tooth and Claw," from The New Yorker.
  • Founder's Award, Santa Barbara Writers' Conference, 2006.
  • Evil Companions Literary Award, Denver Public Library, 2007.
  • Commonwealth Club of California Silver Medal for Literature, 76th annual awards, 2007 (Talk Talk).
  • Audie Prize, 2007, for best audio performance by a writer (The Tortilla Curtain).
  • Ross Macdonald Award for body of work by a California writer, 2007.
  • National Magazine Award, 2007 ("Wild Child," from McSweeney's).
  • Best American Stories selection, 2007 ("Balto," from The Paris Review).
  • Best American Stories selection, 2008 ("Admiral," from Harper's).
  • Induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2009.
  • Rea Award for the Short Story, 2014.
  • Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, 2019.



Short fiction[edit]


  • Descent of Man (1979)
  • Greasy Lake & Other Stories (1985)
  • If the River Was Whiskey (1989)
  • Without a Hero (1994)
  • T.C. Boyle Stories (1998), compiles four earlier volumes of short fiction plus seven previously uncollected stories
  • After The Plague (2001)
  • Tooth and Claw (2005)
  • The Human Fly (2005), previously published stories collected as young adult literature
  • Wild Child & Other Stories (2010)
  • T.C. Boyle Stories II (2013), compiles three volumes of short fiction (After the Plague, Tooth and Claw, Wild Child) with a new collection of 14 stories entitled "A Death in Kitchawank"
  • The Relive Box & Other Stories (2017)
  • I Walk Between the Raindrops (2022)

List of stories[edit]

The following list is a selection of the many short stories Boyle has written:

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected Notes
"My Pain Is Worse Than Your Pain" 2010 Boyle, T. Coraghessan (January 2010). "My Pain Is Worse Than Your Pain". Harper's. Vol. 320, no. 1916. pp. 57–64. "A Death in Kitchawank" (2013)
"The Night of the Satellite" 2013 Boyle, T. Coraghessan (April 15, 2013). "The Night of the Satellite". The New Yorker. Vol. 89, no. 9. pp. 62–69. "A Death in Kitchawank" (2013)
"Sic Transit" 2013 Boyle, T. Coraghessan (October 2013). "Sic Transit". Harper's. Vol. 327, no. 1961. pp. 85–94. "A Death in Kitchawank" (2013)
"The Relive Box" 2014 Boyle, T. Coraghessan (March 17, 2014). "The Relive Box". The New Yorker. Vol. 90, no. 4. pp. 58–65. The Relive Box & Other Stories (2017)
"Are We Not Men?" 2016 Boyle, T. Coraghessan (November 7, 2016). "Are We Not Men?". The New Yorker. Vol. 92, no. 36. pp. 56–63. The Relive Box & Other Stories (2017)
"Asleep at the Wheel" 2019 Boyle, T. Coraghessan (February 11, 2019). "Asleep at the Wheel". The New Yorker. Vol. 94, no. 48. pp. 54–61. I Walk Between the Raindrops (2022)

Edited anthology[edit]

  • DoubleTakes (2004, co-edited with K. Kvashay-Boyle)

Chronology and settings[edit]

Title Time Setting Historical personage in the novel
World's End (1987) Late 17th century, 1949 and 1968 Northern Westchester County near Peekskill, New York
Water Music (1982) 1795 London, Scotland, and Africa (source of the Niger) Mungo Park
The Road to Wellville (1993) 1907 Battle Creek, Michigan John Harvey Kellogg
Riven Rock (1998) 1905–1925 Montecito, Santa Barbara County, California Stanley McCormick, Katharine McCormick
The Women (2009) Early 20th century up to 1930s Wisconsin, Chicago, Japan Frank Lloyd Wright
The Inner Circle (2004) 1940s–50s Bloomington, Indiana Alfred Kinsey
Drop City (2003) 1970 California, Alaska
Budding Prospects (1984) 1980s California
East Is East (1990) 1980s Georgia (American South) Hu Tu Mei [20]
The Tortilla Curtain (1995) 1990s Southern California
Talk Talk (2006) 2000s California and New York state
When the Killing's Done (2011) 2000s, 1970s, 1940s California (Channel Islands)
A Friend of the Earth (2000) late 1980s; 2025–2026 California, Oregon
The Harder They Come (2015) 2011 Mendocino County, California, including Fort Bragg and Willits


Boyle's novel The Road to Wellville was adapted into a film in 1994, also titled The Road to Wellville, by writer-director Alan Parker. It starred Anthony Hopkins, Matthew Broderick, Bridget Fonda, John Cusack, Dana Carvey, and Colm Meaney. The film was not well received either critically or financially, and was considered a box-office flop[21] and appeared on several critics' worst-of-the-year lists.[22][23][24][25][26]


  1. ^ a b c "Faculty Profile > USC College of Letters, Arts, & Sciences". College.usc.edu. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  2. ^ a b c "T. C. Boyle". NNDB.
  3. ^ "PEN / Faulkner Foundation Award For Fiction Archive". Penfaulkner.org. Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  4. ^ "T Coraghessan Boyle". Albany.edu. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  5. ^ Utley, Sandye. "BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION". Tcboyle.net. Archived from the original on 21 October 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  6. ^ Gleason, Paul William. Understanding T.C. Boyle (Understanding Contemporary Literature. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina, 2009, p. 10.
  7. ^ "storySouth Non-Fiction". Storysouth.com. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  8. ^ O'Neill, Molly (1993-06-02). "AT BREAKFAST WITH – T. Coraghessan Boyle – Biting the Hand That Once Fed Battle Creek". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  9. ^ "Penguin Reading Guides | The Tortilla Curtain | T. C. Boyle". Us.penguingroup.com. Archived from the original on 2010-08-30. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  10. ^ "authorName:"T. Coraghessan Boyle" : Archive". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  11. ^ "Boyle, T. Coraghessan (Harper's Magazine)". Harpers.org. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  12. ^ BOYLE, T. C. "WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? | Esquire | MARCH '19". Esquire – The Complete Archive. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  13. ^ Boyle, T. C. (13 April 2010). "The Silence". The Atlantic.
  14. ^ Boyle, T.C. "Not Me". Playboy. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  15. ^ "TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES WITH A.M. HOMES AND T.C. BOYLE". Symphony Space. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  16. ^ Pearl, Nancy; Schwager, Jeff (2020). The Writer's Library.
  17. ^ "T. C. Boyle: By the Book". The New York Times. 24 March 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  18. ^ After the mudslides, an absence in Montecito, The New Yorker, T. C. Boyle, January 22, 2018. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  19. ^ The Library of Congress catalog record has a 1981 copyright date, but Boyle's website points out that the novel was released in 1982.
  20. ^ Haunting Legend Of Green Swamp, Orlando Sentinel, Kevin Spear, October 31, 1991. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  21. ^ The Road to Wellville at Box Office Mojo
  22. ^ The Road to Wellville at Rotten Tomatoes Edit this at Wikidata
  23. ^ Travers, Peter (December 29, 1994). "The Best and Worst Movies of 1994". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  24. ^ Maslin, Janet (December 27, 1994). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; The Good, Bad and In-Between In a Year of Surprises on Film". The New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  25. ^ Pickle, Betsy (December 30, 1994). "Searching for the Top 10... Whenever They May Be". Knoxville News-Sentinel. p. 3.
  26. ^ Lovell, Glenn (December 25, 1994). "The Past Picture Show the Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- a Year Worth's of Movie Memories". San Jose Mercury News (Morning Final ed.). p. 3.

External links[edit]