TC Boyle

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TC Boyle after a reading in Vienna, 2012

Tom Coraghessan Boyle (* 2. December 1948 in Peekskill , New York as Thomas John Boyle ) is an American writer .


TC Boyle, Munich 2012

Tom Coraghessan Boyle was born as Thomas John Boyle. Boyle gave himself the Irish name Coraghessan at the age of 17 after a maternal ancestor.

Boyle grew up in difficult circumstances because both parents were alcoholics . His father was a bus driver by profession, his mother worked as a secretary. Both parents were Catholic and grew up in orphanages. He barely made high school graduation. He earned a reputation as a drifter and school failure in high school in recent years.

He studied English and history at the State University of New York and graduated with a BA in 1968 . In college, he also discovered literature and a taste for authors like Updike , Ibsen , Sartre, and Camus . He also started writing himself and took creative writing courses. He also played various instruments ( jazz and pop music ). He reports about this time in his autobiographical text "The Eleventh Draft" (1999). After completing his BA, he worked as a high school teacher for four years while writing short stories. The publication of the short story "The OD and Hepatitis Railroad or Bust" in the North American Revue in 1972 earned him acceptance into a writing workshop at the University of Iowa.

At the University of Iowa , he took again the study and acquired in 1977 a doctorate ( Ph.D. ) in English literature of the 19th century. He also attended the writers' workshop at the same university, led by John Irving , who became his mentor . In addition to his literary work, Boyle taught English at the University of Southern California since 1978 , since 1986 as a full professor. His short stories and short stories appear regularly in major American magazines. He has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 2009 .

Boyle has been married to Karen Kvashay since 1974, with whom he has three children (Kerrie, Milo, Spencer). The couple live in Montecito near Santa Barbara , California.


Boyle has given the historical novel a new reputation in America . His novels and stories are often based on thoroughly researched historical events and personalities, around whom he invents sometimes realistic - as in the novel Riven Rock -, sometimes absurd - as in the story "I Dated Jane Austen " - with great attention to detail .

Boyle regards the reading of contemporary authors as one of the most important foundations for writing. His favorite authors include Mary Flannery O'Connor , Gabriel García Márquez , EL Doctorow , Thomas Pynchon , Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar .

Collections of short stories

Boyle has published over 100 short stories . Accordingly, he has also published several volumes of short stories. His first book was the collection of stories Descent of Man (1979), German death by drowning (Ex. Anette Grube), HC: München / Hanser 1995, ISBN 3-446-16074-4 and TB: München / dtv 1997, ISBN 3-423-12329-X ). Some of the stories had already appeared in magazines such as Esquire and The Atlantic Monthly during his college days, where he had met John Irving and Raymond Carver .

  • Greasy Lake and Other Stories , 1985, German Greasy Lake and other stories (Ex. Ditte and Giovanni Bandini and others), TB: München / dtv 1993, ISBN 3-423-11771-0 .
  • If the River Was Whiskey , 1989, German If the river was full of whiskey (ex. Werner Richter), TB: Munich / dtv 1994, ISBN 3-423-11903-9 .
  • Without a Hero , 1994, German Fleischeslust (ex. Werner Richter), HC: München / Hanser 1999, ISBN 3-446-19772-9 and TB: München / dtv 2001, ISBN 3-423-12910-7 .
  • After the Plague , 2001, no more cool . (Transferred from Werner Richter), HC: München / Hanser 2002, ISBN 3-446-20126-2 and TB: München / dtv 2004, ISBN 3-423-13158-6 .
  • Tooth and Claw , 2005, German teeth and claws . (Ex. Dirk van Gunsteren and Annette Grube), HC: München / Hanser 2008, ISBN 978-3-446-20995-4 ; Paperback edition: dtv, Munich 2010; ISBN 978-3-423-21194-9
  • The fly man and other stories (trans. Werner Richter et al.), TB: Munich / dtv 2001, ISBN 3-423-62048-X .

In addition, Maro Verlag and later the Gutenberg Book Guild brought out several illustrated small collector's editions of the series The Great Book and The Great Booklet with short stories by Boyle, whereby the older editions are now only available in antiquarian versions:

  • The Arctic Explorer / Der Polarforscher (ex. Werner Richter, Maro 1994)
  • I Dated Jane Austen / My Evening with Jane Austen (ex. Werner Richter, Maro 1996)
  • Rock & Roll Heaven / Der Hardrock-Himmel (Ex. Werner Richter, BG Gutenberg 2001)
  • Swept Away / Windsbraut (Ex. Dirk van Gunsteren, BG Gutenberg 2008)

The short story “The Big Garage” was made into a film by Uwe Nagel in 2007 ( Die Große Werkstatt ).

In 2010 a single edition appeared in Germany with Das wilde Kind, a longer novella dealing with the story of the wolf child Victor von Aveyron (dtv, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-423-14065-2 ). Originally this was intended as part of the Talk Talk novel , but, according to Boyle, grew into a "fictionalized story… exaggerated into the mythical". Wild Child is the cover story of a not yet fully translated collection of short stories.

Boyle publishes a collection of short stories and a novel alternately each year.

On April 21, 2011, Boyle's short story “Verlorene Heimat” was published exclusively in the magazine of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The text describes the return of a Ukrainian couple to the Chernobyl death zone.

In 2018, Good Home Stories was published by Hanser Verlag, which were translated from English by Anette Grube and Dirk van Gunsteren .

In 2020 the German version of The Relive Box from 2017 was published by Hanser Verlag under the title Are we not people .


Boyle has published 16 novels to date. His first novel Water Music (1982) was a great success. Boyle tells of two expeditions into the interior of Africa. The Scottish explorer Mungo Park absolutely wants to reach the mouth of the Niger and sets off at the beginning of the 19th century. Despite multiple efforts, however, he finally fails due to the circumstances.

1984 appeared his novel Budding Prospects (dt. Budding Prospects ), the description of various adversities, which three marijuana -Pflanzer are exposed in California, and her desperate desire to remain undetected.

Then World's End (1987) was published, for which he received the PEN / Faulkner Award for the best novel of the year - a cross-section through several phases of American history.

In East Is East (1990) (dt. The samurai Savannah ) is about a half-Japanese, who on the coast of Georgia jumps aboard a freighter, to seek his American father. At the same time, the story is told from the perspective of the artists of a colony who are based there. The double perspective reveals a series of deep cultural misunderstandings among American artists, immigration officials, and the Japanese.

Welcome to Wellville (1993) is set in asanatorium for the rich in Battle Creek, foundedby corn flakes inventor John Harvey Kellogg ,at the beginning of the 20th century. A couple ends up in the sanatorium who almost lose each other because of the hopeless search for really healthy food. Its main features are reminiscent of Thomas Mann's Der Zauberberg from 1924.

He received the prestigious Prix ​​Médicis Étranger for The Tortilla Curtain (dt. América ) (1995) about Mexican immigrants in the USA .

In Riven Rock (1998), the courageous and womanly motivated Katherine Dexter does everything to free her schizophrenic and sex-obsessed husband from his demons.

In 2000, Boyle published his only science fiction novel A Friend of the Earth , which tells parallel the failed struggle of environmental activists in the present and the future struggle of mankind for survival after the climate catastrophe.

TC Boyle's ninth novel Drop City (2003) puts two very different societies against each other: A hippie commune in the freaky 70s - Boyle has processed his own experiences (including drug use) - and on the other hand a trapper society in Alaska that remains from the time of the borderland conquests seems to be. What both have in common, however, besides the rejection of bourgeois society, is the classic distribution of roles: Even with the hippies, cooking is a women's job, the procurement of necessary goods and hut building is a men's job. When the hippies of California take refuge in the loneliness of Alaska, various disasters are predetermined. This shows again Boyle's predilection for the outsiders of society.

Boyle's tenth novel Dr. Sex (March 2005, in the original: The Inner Circle , Viking Books, 2004) tells the story of the American sex researcher Alfred Charles Kinsey (1894–1956) from the perspective of the fictional character John Milk.

His eleventh novel was published in 2006 in the USA and Germany under the same title, Talk Talk . The protagonist is a deaf young teacher who is the victim of identity theft . The exciting narrative arc has traits of a thriller . Both the characterization of the three main characters and the description of the American legal system are impressive.

His twelfth novel Die Frauen was published in February 2009, also in German translation. He depicts the life of the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright from the perspective of a fictional Japanese assistant and the four women who shaped his life. Boyle was inspired to write this novel by the fact that he has lived in a " Prairie House " since 1993 , which Frank Lloyd Wright had designed and which he has carefully restored.

In 2011 the novel When the Slaughter is Over was published. In this he again takes up various of his oldest topics. The protagonists are two factions of environmentalists. They fight a bitter battle on the Channel Islands off the southern coast of California. The question is whether one should spend a lot of money trying to restore the balance of the ecosystem - which inevitably means the extermination of several animal species - or whether one should prevent killing at all costs.

He also had his next novel San Miguel set on one of the Channel Islands - on the San Miguel Island of the same name , the westernmost of the islands. Here it deals with the biography of three different women and their lives on the inhospitable island from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century.

Boyle's novel Hart auf Hart takes up the issue of violence by individuals: Both father Sten and his son Adam claim to be allowed to kill others if they feel threatened by them. FAZ critic Jan Wiele sees the novel as a "breakneck drive on the Lost Highway".

In the novel Die Terranauten , published in 2017, Boyle uses motifs from the experiments of Biosphere 2 and has a fictional second research group of eight people repeat the experiment, more consistently than the role models managed.

In the novel Das Licht , published in 2019, Boyle takes us back to the 1960s at Harvard University in the group around Timothy Leary and the beginnings of drug culture, when it was believed that one could use LSD to expand consciousness. In the prologue he describes a legendary episode in the life of the LSD discoverer Albert Hofmann : the “ Bicycle Day ”, on which Hofmann undertook an LSD self-experiment.

Novels (selection)

Public work


TC Boyle spends a lot of time reading publicly ; he says of her that he wants to put on a "really good show" for the audience. In October 2003 and above all in May 2005 he was able to fill large halls such as the German Theater in Göttingen or the Cologne E-Werk during his reading tours through Germany . In March 2009 he was back in Germany to present his new novel Die Frauen . In 2017 he was repeatedly in Germany and Europe with his novel Die Terranauten on reading tours. He only reads in English, but mostly he appears in the company of a German artist or journalist who repeats the passages he has presented in German or who recites a passage that follows. As part of a reading tour for his novel Das Licht , Boyle made a guest appearance on February 9, 2019 at the sold-out theater in Frankfurt am Main .


Like few other authors, Boyle knows how to use the Internet both for marketing his own works and for dialog with readers - “What's New” or “ Frequently Asked Questions ”. He wrote an introduction for each of his 16 books and published them on his website.


  • Literature can be great in all ways, but it's just entertainment.
"Literature can be great in any way, but it's just entertainment."
  • Comedy is my mode of dealing with tragedy and despair.
"Comedy is my way of dealing with tragedy and despair."


Individual evidence

  1. “Short biography” ( Memento from February 24, 2012 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on March 2, 2012.
  2. "About TC Boyle" , accessed on March 2, 2012.
  3. a b c d e Frankfurter Rundschau: Interview with TC Boyle: “I am not a barbarian” ( Memento from February 20, 2009 in the Internet Archive ). Accessed on February 13, 2009.
  4. Academy Members. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed January 11, 2019 .
  5. The volume The Collected Stories of T. Coraghessan Boyle from 1998 contains about 48 short stories; the volume TC Boyle Stories II: The Collected Stories of T. Coraghessan Boyle, Volume II from 2013 comprises approx. 58 stories.
  6. Great Workshop, The (2007)
  7. Jan Wiele: Angry Citizens in the Wild West., February 11, 2015, accessed April 8, 2015
  8. Interview with TC Boyle on the Guardian website , accessed on August 15, 2011.
  9. Andreas Platthaus : Captain Ahab goes hunting again for one day , FAZ, August 24, 2013, p. 33.
  10. ^ Henry Hitchings: Close encounters . Review, in: Financial Times , October 22, 2016, p. 11
  11. Interview with P. Wild . In: 3 AM Magazine. 2003, viewed on December 27, 2014
  12. Interview with TC Boyle. In: Reader's Guide to Riven Rock on the author's homepage. viewed on December 27, 2014
  13. Information on the price page

Web links

Commons : TC Boyle  - collection of images, videos and audio files