John Updike


(Reviewed by Judi Clark FEB 3, 1998)

This novel is about a love affair between a white privileged girl and a black teen from the streets of Rio who meet on the beach.  But this is far from a Romeo and Juliet love story.  (Would Juliet have prostituted herself for Romeo?) 

I liked this book when I read it, but most reviewers initially seemed to hate it.  I don't know if it was because they didn't forgive Updike for trying out magical realism or if they don't like that genre of fiction to begin with. It certainly isn't the story itself since it reads like an adult fairy tale.

  • Amazon readers' rating: from 35 reviews

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About the Author:

John UpdikeJohn Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania, as an only child. His father taught algebra in a local high school, and his mother wrote short stories and novels. After getting straight A's in high school, he went to Harvard University on a full scholarship, studying English and graduating summa cum laude in 1954. After graduation, he spent a year in England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford.  From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker, to which he has contributed poems, fiction, essays, and book reviews. 

He is the author of over fifty books, including collections of short stories, poems and criticism. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, the Howells Medal and the Campion Medal. He essentially published a book or so a year.

In 1959 Updike published both his first book of short fiction, The Same Door, and his first novel, The Poorhouse Fair. That year he also moved from New York City to the coastal town of Ipswich, Massachusetts, where he lived most of the time since.

Updike won the National Book Award in 1963 for his novel The Centaur. He gained popular success with Couples, published in 1968, a tale of adultery among middle-class couples in a small New England town. He was most famous for his four "Rabbit" novels, which chronicled the adventures of one Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom; the last two novels Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest, each won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

He was twice married and the father of four children.

John Updike died at the age of 76 on January 27, 2009 of lung cancer at a hospice near his home in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. About Us | Subscribe | Review Team | History | ©1998-2014