T.C. Boyle

March 31 - April 1


T.C. Boyle, often referred to as a “maximalist” writer for the way his rich prose stands in contrast to a more fashionable minimalism, is an author unafraid to explore. His short stories and novels bring readers to both coasts of the United States, to Mexico, to rural inland settings, to Alaska, to small islands, to the year 2036. Boyle himself has lived and written in some of these places, as he started his writing career as an undergrad at SUNY Potsdam, then completed an MFA at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop and a PhD in nineteenth-century British literature at the same institution, finally moving to California where he is now professor of creative writing and English at the University of Southern California.

The “maximalist” label is fitting not just at the level of a Boyle sentence, but for the scope of what his short stories and novels might contain. Astronomy, math, culinary expertise, a chimpanzee hiding in the back bedroom, one never quite knows what elements one of Boyle’s narrators might be faced with. On this topic, Boyle says in a 2000 Paris Review interview: “When you’re a kid in school and you wonder, Jesus, why do I have to take trigonometry, why do I have to take this or that? and your teacher says, Well, everything you know will be good for you in future life—it’s true. But only if you’re a writer.” Boyle’s work such as Tortilla Curtain also uses fiction to explore social activism, on issues of immigration, race, environmentalism and others. He has received many awards for his writing: several of his stories have been selected for Best American Stories; his novel World’s End was a National Book Award finalist and the PEN/Faulkner Award for best novel of the year. Boyle was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2009.