Coraghessan Boyle (also known as T.C. Boyle, born Thomas John Boyle on December 2, 1948) is a U.S. novelist and short story writer. Since the late 1970s, he has published eleven novels and more than 60 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 is married with three children. Since 1986, Boyle has been Professor of English at the University of Southern California.
Thomas John Boyle was born December 2, 1948 in Peekskill, New York. He grew up in the small town on the Hudson Valley that he regularly fictionalizes as Peterskill (as in widely anthologized short story Greasy Lake). Boyle changed his middle name when he was 17 and exclusively used Coraghessan for much of his career, but now also goes by T.C. Boyle.
Boyle earned a BA in English and history from the State University of New York at Potsdam in 1968, after which he taught for four years at the high school in his home town where his mother worked as head secretary and his father as janitor. After being accepted to the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1972, Boyle served as fiction editor for the Iowa Review and in 1977 first received a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and in 1988 a Guggenheim. Boyle has since received many literary awards - - including the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Malamud Prize, the PEN/West Literary Prize, the Commonwealth Gold Medal for Literature, National Academy of Arts and Letters Award for prose excellence as well as six O. Henry Awards for short fiction, multiple Best American Short Story awards and Drop City is a National Book Award Finalist.
Boyle earned his MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1974 and his Ph.D. degree in 19th century British literature in 1977. He has been a member of the English Department at the University of Southern California since 1978, and currently lives in Santa Barbara with his wife and three children.
Many of Boyle's novels and short stories explore the Baby Boom generation, its appetites, joys, and addictions. Boyle’s 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 magic realism. As well, Boyle's fiction explores the ruthlessness and the unpredictability of nature and the toll human society unwittingly takes on the environment. Boyle's work has been compared to Mark Twain's for its mixture of humor and social exploration.
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 Medicis Etranger). Boyle is also one of America's most accomplished short story writers and has published eight collections, including Descent Of Man (1979), Greasy Lake (1985), If the River Was Whiskey (1989), and Without a Hero (1994). His short stories regularly appear in the major American magazines, including The New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire magazine, The Atlantic Monthly and Playboy.
Renowned for the thorough research he carries out, some literary critics have said that Boyle has given new impetus to the historical novel by spinning bizarre and funny yarns around historical events. For example, Riven Rock, set in 1920s America, is about contemporary treatment for insanity as well as the emerging feminist movement. Similarly, The Road to Wellville features John Harvey Kellogg, inventor of the corn flake and peanut butter, as a quack doctor at a turn-of-the-century health spa; a later novel, Drop City, is set in 1970 and deals with the often contradictory aims and promises of the hippie movement.
Boyle's latest novel, an identity-theft literary thriller, Talk Talk, is currently in production at Universal Pictures. Despite the contemporary qualities of his fiction, to date only one film has been made from Boyle's work: 1994's The Road to Wellville, starring Anthony Hopkins, John Cusack and Matthew Broderick. In 2006, two new projects had T. C. Boyle's name attached: Achates McNeil, being screenwritten by Donald Margulies, and The Tortilla Curtain, starring Kevin Costner. Kinsey, a 2004 semi-biographical film starring Liam Neeson as Alfred Kinsey and Laura Linney as his wife Clara, is seen by some as a companion piece to Boyle's novel The Inner Circle.