John Updike (1932 – 2009)

John Updike (born March 18, 1932) waS an American novelist and short story author born in Shillington, Pennsylvania.

Updike's most famous works are his Rabbit series (Rabbit, Remembered). Rabbit Is Rich and Rabbit At Rest both won Pulitzer Prizes for Updike. Describing his subject as "the American small town, Protestant middle class", Updike is well known for his careful craftsmanship and prolific writing, having published about 30 novels and short story collections, as well as some literary criticism.

As a child Updike suffered from psoriasis and stammering, and he was encouraged by his mother to write. Updike entered Harvard University on a full scholarship, graduating summa cum laude in 1954 with a degree in English before joining The New Yorker as regular contributor.

He favored realism and naturalism in his writing; for instance the opening of Rabbit, Run, spans several pages describing a pick-up basketball game in intricate detail. Most of his novels follow this style at least loosely, and generally feature everyday people in middle America -- the hero of his writing is typically an everyman one can find on the streets. He on occasion abandons this setting, for instance in Gertrude and Claudius (a prelude to the story of Hamlet). His works often explore sex, death, and their interrelationship.

He was a well known and practicing critic, and is often in the center of critical wars of words, including being called one of three stooges by Tom Wolfe (the other two were John Irving and Norman Mailer). Updike has also been involved in critical duels with Gore Vidal, another author notorious for his criticisms.

During his lifetime Updike received many awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes for fiction, two National Book Awards, three National Book Critics Circle Awards, the National Medal of Arts in 1989 and the National Humanities Medal in 2003.

John Updike died of lung cancer on January 27, 2009 at the age of 76.

Books by John Updike