The author of the picaresque novel, A Confederacy of Dunces (published in 1980), he committed suicide in 1969 and was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His other novel, The Neon Bible, was also published after his death.
He graduated from Tulane University and went on to study English at Columbia University. He was later drafted into the U.S. Army and was stationed for a time in Puerto Rico.
His novel, The Neon Bible, was adapted into a film.
He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to John Dewey Toole, Jr. (a car salesman) and Thelma Ducoing Toole (a teacher). His mother published his two novels-- Confederacy of Dunces and The Neon Bible-- several years after his suicide.
He was a contemporary of fellow American author, Jerome Charyn.