T. Coraghessan Boyle: American novelist and short story writer (1948-) | Biography
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T. Coraghessan Boyle
American novelist and short story writer

T. Coraghessan Boyle

T. Coraghessan Boyle
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American novelist and short story writer
A.K.A. Thomas John Boyle, T. C. Boyle
Is Writer Novelist Professor Educator
From United States of America
Field Academia Literature
Gender male
Birth 2 December 1948, Peekskill, Westchester County, New York, USA
Age 74 years
Star sign Sagittarius
State University of New York at Potsdam
University of Iowa
State University of New York
Notable Works
The Tortilla Curtain  
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship  
PEN/Malamud Award  
Prix Médicis for foreign literature 1997
PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction  
Short story
The details


Thomas Coraghessan Boyle, also known as T. C. Boyle and T. Coraghessan Boyle (born December 2, 1948), is an American novelist and short story writer. Since the mid-1970s, he has published sixteen novels and more than 100 short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988, 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.

Early life

Boyle grew up in Peekskill, New York. His name was originally Thomas John Boyle; he changed his middle name to Coraghessan when he was 17 after an ancestor of his mother. 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.

Literary characteristics

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, Garcia Marquez'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."

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. His novels include World's End (1987, winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction); The Road to Wellville (1993); and The Tortilla Curtain (1995, winner of France's Prix Médicis étranger).

Boyle has published eight 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, Harper's, Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly and Playboy, as well as on the radio show Selected Shorts.

Personal life

T.C. Boyle is married to Karen Kvashay. They have three children and live near Santa Barbara, California.

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



  • Water Music (1981)
  • Budding Prospects : A Pastoral (1984)
  • World's End (1987)
  • East is East (1990)
  • The Road to Wellville (1993)
  • The Tortilla Curtain (1995)
  • Riven Rock (1998)
  • A Friend of the Earth (2000)
  • Drop City (2003)
  • The Inner Circle (2004)
  • Talk Talk (2006)
  • The Women (2009)
  • When the Killing's Done (2011)
  • San Miguel (2012)
  • The Harder They Come (2015)
  • The Terranauts (2016)
  • Outside Looking In (2019)

Short fiction


  • 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 "Death in Kitchawank"
  • The Relive Box & Other Stories (2017)

List of stories

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected Notes 
The night of the satellite 2013 Boyle, T. Coraghessan (April 15, 2013). "The night of the satellite". The New Yorker. 89 (9): 62–69.   
Sic transit 2013 Boyle, T. Coraghessan (October 15, 2013). "Sic transit". Harper's. 89 (10): 85–94.   
The Relive Box 2014 Boyle, T. Coraghessan (March 17, 2014). "The Relive Box". The New Yorker. 90 (4): 58–65.   
Are we not men? 2016 Boyle, T. Coraghessan (November 7, 2016). "Are we not men?". The New Yorker. 92 (36): 56–63.   
After the mudslides, an absence in Montecito 2018 Boyle, T. Coraghessan (January 22, 2018). "After the mudslides, an absence in Montecito". The New Yorker. 94 (4).   
Asleep at the wheel 2019 Boyle, T. Coraghessan (February 11, 2019). "Asleep at the wheel". The New Yorker. 94 (48): 54–61.   

Edited anthology

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

Essays and reporting

  • Boyle, T. C. (January 2010). "My pain is worse than your pain". Harper's. 320 (1916): 57–64.

Chronology in Boyle's works

  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 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 
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 ----- 

Awards and honors

  • Rea Award for the Short Story, 2014.
  • Induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2009.
  • Best American Stories selection, 2008 ("Admiral," from Harper's).
  • Best American Stories selection, 2007 ("Balto," from The Paris Review).
  • National Magazine Award, 2007 ("Wild Child," from McSweeney's).
  • Ross Macdonald Award for body of work by a California writer, 2007.
  • Audie Prize, 2007, for best audio performance by a writer (The Tortilla Curtain).
  • Commonwealth Club of California Silver Medal for Literature, 76th annual awards, 2007 (Talk Talk).
  • Evil Companions Literary Award, Denver Public Library, 2007.
  • Founder's Award, Santa Barbara Writers' Conference, 2006.
  • Best American Stories selection, 2004. "Tooth and Claw," from The New Yorker.
  • Editors' Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of 9 best books of the year, 2003.
  • O. Henry Award, 2003. "Swept Away," from The New Yorker.
  • National Book Award Finalist, Drop City, 2003.
  • Southern California Booksellers' Association Award for best fiction title of the year, 2002, for After the Plague.
  • O.Henry Award, 2001. "The Love of My Life," 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, 1999. "The Underground Gardens," from The New Yorker.
  • Prix Médicis Étranger, Paris, for the best foreign novel of the year, 1997 (The Tortilla Curtain).
  • Best American Stories selection, 1997. "Killing Babies," from The New Yorker.
  • Howard D. Vursell Memorial Award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters, for prose excellence, 1993.
  • Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree, State University of New York, 1991.
  • Editors' Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of the 13 best books of the year, 1989 (If the River Was Whiskey).
  • PEN Center West Literary Prize, best short story collection of the year, 1989 (If the River Was Whiskey).
  • Prix Passion publishers' prize, France, for best novel of the year, 1989 (Water Music).
  • O. Henry Award, 1989. "The Ape Lady in Retirement," from The Paris Review.
  • Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal for Literature, best novel of the year, 57th annual awards, 1988 (World's End).
  • O. Henry Award, 1988. "Sinking House," from The Atlantic Monthly.
  • PEN/Faulkner Award, best novel of the year, 1988, for World's End.
  • Guggenheim Fellowship, 1988.
  • Editors' Choice, New York Times Book Review, one of the 16 best books of the year, 1987 (World's End).
  • Commonwealth of California, Silver Medal for Literature, 55th Annual Awards, 1986 (Greasy Lake).
  • The Paris Review's John Train Humor Prize, 1984 ("The Hector Quesadilla Story").
  • National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, 1983.
  • The Paris Review's Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, 1981 ("Mungo Among the Moors," excerpt from Water Music).
  • The St. Lawrence Award for Fiction, best story collection of the year, 1980 (Descent of Man).
  • National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, 1977.
  • Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines Fiction Award for the Short Story, 1977.
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