T.C. Boyle – The Harder They Come

8:00 pm

The John Adams Institute

After his first visit two decades ago, one of the paragons of American literature, T. Coraghessen Boyle, returns to the John Adams. His latest novel, The Harder They Come, recounts the miseries of a troubled father and son in a resonant meditation on the American frontier ethos.


The Harder They Come is about the compulsion towards total independence and the thirst for violence, and how these go hand in hand. The father, Sten Stensen, is a Vietnam vet haunted by an act of violence that earned him a reputation as a vigilante hero. His son, Adam, is a ticking time bomb of aggression who has gone missing in the forests. Exploring the dark side of the American dream, the novel recapitulates themes that have preoccupied Boyle throughout his long career: his fascination with characters who pit themselves against their neighbors, the system and nature; freedom as both a founding principle of America — and an invitation to rebellion and self-indulgence; and the dark fallout of ideological certainty and obsession.

Boyle is a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.  Earlier this year, he won the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement at the 2015 LA Times Festival of Books. Previously, he won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Prix Médicis étranger and the Rea Award for the Short Story. The Harder They Come has been praised by critics as a Great American Novel: a drama taking place at the core of the American soul. ”From the novel’s thrilling set piece of a start […] to its pensive conclusion,” The New York Times wrote ”The Harder They Come is a masterly — and arresting — piece of storytelling, arguably Mr. Boyle’s most powerful, kinetic novel yet.”

Join us for an evening with one of America’s most celebrated storytellers!