T.C. Boyle

Photo by Eric Olsen

T.C. Boyle grew up in a working-class home in Peekskill, New York. While his parents encouraged him to do well in school, T.C. had other ideas, and set out to make music his career. At the age of 17, he changed his middle name to Coraghessan  (pronounced “kuh-rag-issun”) from John, in homage to his Irish ancestry. On his graduation from Lakeland High School, he went to the State University of New York (SUNY) at Potsdam, intending to major in music. His audition on the saxophone for the music program did not go as well as planned, however, and when a play he wrote for one of his classes got a few laughs, he  began to rethink his priorities.

T.C. graduated from SUNY in 1968 in English and history, played in a rock band, and “drifted” a bit. Then he became a high school teacher at his alma mater.

His first published short story, “The OD and Hepatitis Railroad,” appeared in the North American Review and helped him get into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He received an MFA in fiction writing in 1974, and then stayed on to get a PhD. He also  served as fiction editor of the Iowa Review.

T.C. joined the faculty of the University of Southern California in 1978 as an assistant professor of creative writing. His first collection of short stories, Descent of Man, was published a year later, followed by his first novel, Water Music, in 1981. His  third novel, World’s End, 1987, earned the PEN/Faulkner Award for best novel of the year. By then he was a full professor of creative writing at USC. In the years since, he has published many more novels and short stories and won numerous other awards including an O. Henry Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for the short story.

His work has been translated into more than two dozen languages. His stories have appeared in most of the major American magazines, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, Playboy, The Paris Review, GQ, Antaeus, Granta and McSweeney’s.

He and his wife, whom he married in 1974, currently live near Santa Barbara. They have three children. His daughter Kerrie followed her father’s lead and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. T.C. still wears red Converse high-tops.


T.C. Boyle Stories II (Viking, 2013)

When the Killing’s Done (Viking, 2011)

Wild Child and Other Stories (Viking, 2010)

The Women (Viking, 2009).

Talk Talk (Viking, 2006)

The Human Fly and Other Stories (Viking, 2005)

Tooth and Claw (Viking, 2005)

The Inner Circle (Viking, 2004)

Drop City (Viking, 2003)

Doubletakes: Contemporary Short Stories, ed. (Wadsworth, 2003)

After the Plague (Viking, 2001)

A Friend of the Earth (Viking, 2000)

Riven Rock (Viking, 1998)

T. C. Boyle Stories (Viking, 1998)

The Tortilla Curtain (Viking, 1995)

Without a Hero (Viking, 1994)

The Road to Wellville (Viking, 1993)

East Is East (Viking, 1990)

If the River Was Whiskey (Viking, 1989)

World’s End (Viking, 1987)

Greasy Lake and Other Stories (Viking, 1985)

Budding Prospects: A Pastoral (Viking, 1984)

Water Music (Little, Brown 1981)

Descent of Man (Little, Brown, 1979)

Find out more about T.C.