Books by John Updike

American novelist, short story writer and poet, internationally known for his novels RABBIT, RUN (1960), RABBIT REDUX (1971), RABBIT IS RICH (1981), and RABBIT AT REST (1990). They follow the life of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, a star athlete, from his youth


ALWAYS LOOKING by John Updike
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Nov. 27, 2012

"A rich trove of insights for art lovers of all stripes."
Final musings on mostly modern art by the prolific lion of American letters. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 3, 2011

"A lyrical, lovely display of Updike's protean powers."
A potpourri of pieces from the busy pen of the gifted Updike (1932-2009), who shows that he could write convincingly about nearly anything. Read full book review >
MY FATHER’S TEARS by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 5, 2009

"A fine final act."
Reflection and reconsideration abound in the late (1932-2009) great author's final finished collection of stories. Read full book review >
THE WIDOWS OF EASTWICK by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 31, 2008

"A work of old age that takes its time, gently drawing us into its knowing orbit. We inhabit this story as we do the later stages of our own lives. Some will not like the book, but it is a vital part of the Updike experience."
Once again summoning characters from his previous books, Updike catches up with the fetching trio of amateur sorceresses introduced in The Witches of Eastwick (1984). Read full book review >
DUE CONSIDERATIONS by John Updike
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Oct. 29, 2007

"One of our best novelists proves once again that he's one of our best writers."
Books and authors, universal and personal history and miscellaneous arcana are carefully considered in this sixth showcase of Updike's (Terrorist, 2006, etc.) tireless versatility and imposing range of interests. Read full book review >
TERRORIST by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 6, 2006

"However it's read, Updike, approaching his mid-70s, continues to entice, provoke and astonish. Who knows where he'll take us next?"
Discursiveness, coincidence and a barely credible surprise ending compromise, but do not critically impair, Updike's intriguing 22nd novel: a scary portrayal of uptight, perpetually imperilled post-9/11 America. Read full book review >
STILL LOOKING by John Updike
NON-FICTION
Released: Nov. 14, 2005

"It's impossible to come away from this without an enriched sense of the depth and power of painting. Updike gives us the fading art of criticism at peak performance."
The undauntable Updike (Seek My Face, 2002, etc.) sails gracefully through another series of exhibition reviews. Read full book review >
VILLAGES by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 24, 2004

"Prototypical Updike: made new here and there by his ever-enviable novelistic skills, but marred by its more than passing resemblance to books that he's written too many times already."
A graceful panoramic depiction of individuals and their communities, which simultaneously echoes Updike's 1968 novel, Couples, and may be as autobiographical a fiction as any he's written. Read full book review >
SEEK MY FACE by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 19, 2002

"Another new fictional world entered, as Updike himself enters old age, with skills and ambitions very much intact."
Updike's 20th novel is, like its predecessor, Gertrude and Claudius (2000), yet another illustration of this adventurous writer's enduring curiosity, versatility, and stylistic energy. Read full book review >
Released: May 23, 2001

"Yet it is too often the same news; its obstinately glad tidings seem too good to be true."
In one of his new poems, Updike describes himself as "a literary Mr. Sunshine," and the phrase is just right: Updike's poetry, like his prose, is a species of largesse; its boundless charity hints at self-satisfaction. Read full book review >
THE COMPLETE HENRY BECH by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 12, 2001

"A goldmine for future Updike scholars."
An attractive summary volume brings together the contents of Updike's three earlier collections of tales about the literary and amorous exploits and embarrassments of his "other" alter ego (the obverse of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom): the unproductive, easily distracted American-Jewish novelist (and improbably Nobel laureate) Henry Bech. Read full book review >
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 15, 2000

"Updike has never been better than when writing about the Angstroms and their discontents, in his justly famous 'quartet,' and in this brilliant and deeply moving coda to it, which can stand by itself as one of his finest novels."
Pronounced echoes of Updike's earlier fiction dominate this mixed-bag collection of 12 short stories and a novella: jazzlike variations (or "licks") on the difficulties and consequences of trying to love others better than we love ourselves. Read full book review >
GERTRUDE AND CLAUDIUS by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 14, 2000

"One of Updike's more intriguing experiments - but not one of his successes. (Book-of-the-Month main selection)"
A risky and ultimately unsatisfying departure from what we've come to think of as Updike's distinctive territory: suburbia and its discontents. Read full book review >
MORE MATTER by John Updike
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Sept. 28, 1999

"Let us hope he changes his mind."
A strong gathering of essays, criticism, addresses, introductions, and autobiographical commentaries written and published over the past eight years. Read full book review >
A CHILD'S CALENDAR by John Updike
Released: Sept. 15, 1999

"The thoughts and language are slightly elevated but not beyond the ken of children, and the pictures enrich the poetry with specific, often amusing, incidents. (Poetry. 6-10)"
Updike has revised a set of 12 short poems, one per month, first published in 1965, and Hyman's busy, finely detailed scenes replace the original edition's illustrations by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. Read full book review >
BECH AT BAY by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 26, 1998

"His best novel, 'quasi' or not, in years."
More literary and amorous adventures enjoyed and endured by "the semi-obscure American author" previously celebrated in Bech: A Book (1970) and Bech is Back (1982) . Read full book review >
A CENTURY OF ARTS AND LETTERS by John Updike
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 7, 1998

"Nearly every entry re-explains who Johnson and Vanamee were or rehashes the early scandals."
A surprisingly dull collection of essays commemorating America's preeminent institution of arts and letters on its centennial. Read full book review >
TOWARD THE END OF TIME by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 10, 1997

"Minor Updike."
Updike's adventurous 18th novel—a dystopian romance, set in the year 2020—contrasts intriguingly with last year's generational saga In the Beauty of the Lilies. Read full book review >
GOLF DREAMS by John Updike
NON-FICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

"An enjoyable experience cover-to-cover and tee-to-green."
This gathering of 30 previously published fictional works, articles, and essays demonstrates Updike's "impassioned but imperfect devotion" to the game of golf. Read full book review >
IN THE BEAUTY OF THE LILIES by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 1, 1996

"On balance, a more than commendable effort from an established master whose preeminence has much to do with his exuberant willingness to keep trying new things."
Updike's bold attempt at the generational saga—the first such novel of his long career—falls somewhere between George Eliot and John O'Hara, and doesn't scruple to provide a few of the simpler pleasures … la Judith Krantz or Harold Robbins. Read full book review >
A HELPFUL ALPHABET OF FRIENDLY OBJECTS by John Updike
ABC BOOKS
Released: Aug. 1, 1995

"As John Updike ably demonstrates, writing an alphabet book is an opportunity no serious novelist can afford to miss. (Picture book/poetry. 3-8)"
ABC poems and photos by a father-and-son team. Read full book review >
THE AFTERLIFE by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 7, 1994

"Not among the best of Updike's collections, but even the duller stories yield extraordinary pleasures of language and perception."
"The Big Guy is getting our range," says the 60ish protagonist of the title story. Read full book review >
BRAZIL by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 9, 1994

"Saul Bellow's finest book, Henderson the Rain King, is still unchallenged as the only American novel of our era to do that."
The indefatigable Updike only occasionally succeeds here. Read full book review >
MEMORIES OF THE FORD ADMINISTRATION by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 3, 1992

"The idea of macro- and micro-history clearly is something Updike wanted to chew over (as he did the ramifications of computers in Roger's Version) but it's the grounded experience of wanting and losing that grows the grass."
His dreadful play of some years back, Buchanan Dying, must have left Updike with a raft of research material that he seems now to have taken and thrust into the fictional hands of a New Hampshire girls'-college historian, Alf Clayton, who's writing a sympathetic book about Buchanan, the president that had the misfortune to usher in the Civil War. Read full book review >
ODD JOBS by John Updike
NON-FICTION
Released: Nov. 7, 1991

"A necessary pleasure."
Like its predecessors, Picked-Up Pieces (1975) and Hugging the Shore (1983), the title and author's introduction here again have Updike minimizing his critical exercises—while, at 928 pages, neglecting the reiteration of nary a one. Read full book review >
RABBIT AT REST by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 1990

"Balzac would have been impressed."
Updike finishes up his Rabbit tetralogy here, with retired Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom in Florida half the year and then back in Pennsylvania—late in 1989: the last year of Rabbit's life, it turns out. Read full book review >
JUST LOOKING by John Updike
NON-FICTION
Released: Oct. 17, 1989

"Now here's a gift book worth giving—or receiving."
This collection of 23 essays on art by one of our leading novelists should come as no great surprise, for in his fiction Updike is a master of complex visual detail. Read full book review >
SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS: Memoirs by John Updike
Released: March 18, 1989

Six iridescent essays in lieu of an autobiography. Read full book review >
SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS by John Updike
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: March 18, 1989

"A neat masterpiece of literary undressing."
Six iridescent essays in lieu of an autobiography. Read full book review >
S by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 12, 1988

"Possible moral here: a rage for symmetry isn't always an artist's best friend."
A companion piece to Roger's Version, this is Updike updating Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter by having Hester Prynne—here, Sarah Worth—get her two cents in as well. Read full book review >
TRUST ME by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 1, 1987

"Consistently shimmering prose can't relieve the deadening sameness of Updike's narratives, too many of which rely on easy ironies and predictable patterns of behavior."
Here's a lot more suburban sex and Protestant redemption—22 stories to be exact—from one of America's most prolific and accomplished prose stylists. Read full book review >
ROGER'S VERSION by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 10, 1986

"It's only too bad that it couldn't have more fully been shown than said."
Roger here is Roger Lambert, a grouchy, burnt-out divinity-school professor, a give-no-quarter Karl Barth-ian who one day entertains a visitor in his office: a pale and unprepossessing researcher in the computer facilities of the University. Read full book review >
THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 1984 by Shannon Ravenel
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 15, 1984

"And, like this year's O. Henry story-collection, Updike's shrewd, professional gathering is topped by a classic that's sure to appear in anthologies for decades to come: Cynthia Ozick's scouring projection of the path of Jewish history toward Miami Beach—'Rosa."
It's not surprising, perhaps, that Updike—a dazzling critic as well as an assured, gifted story-writer—proves to be the most satisfying guest-editor of the "Best American Short Stories" series so far. Read full book review >
THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 21, 1984

"But what you keep coming back to, on nearly every page, is Updike's landscapist's paintbox—which is grand and lush and astonishingly fluid."
Updike once more, as in A Month of Sundays, is writing in homage to Hawthorne. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 21, 1983

"The least lazy of our critics, he may now be our best."
It's entirely possible that history's choice for the finest literary critic to find steady exposure in the pages of the New Yorker will not be Edmund Wilson—but rather John Updike, who here gathers over 100 reviews and essays from recent years. Read full book review >
BECH IS BACK by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 22, 1982

"Like a delicious sundae that turns out to be whipped up out of vitamins and minerals: brilliant fiction, great fun."
Updike grows steadily more dazzling. Read full book review >
RABBIT IS RICH by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 7, 1981

"Still, whatever its limitations as a narrative, this is commanding work from a writer whose great, wide intelligence is probably unrivaled in American fiction: Rabbit lives, if perhaps a bit less vitally now, and most serious readers will want to keep track of him."
Should Updike's longer fiction prove truly lasting, it may well be in the form of the Rabbit novels—if only because they will so precisely tell future generations what the aging, late-20th-century industrial East of the US was like in sight, smell, sound, and social economy. Read full book review >
PROBLEMS by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 29, 1979

"Otherwise, it's an uneven volume, falling in sum a bit short of prime Updike—but the best stories here are among the best anywhere."
Divorce is the tonic note of this volume of new Updike stories, his first in seven years. Read full book review >
THE COUP by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Dec. 7, 1978

"As serious work, even serious comedy, it never invites any species of emotional involvement—and never straightens out its curlicues enough to hit home."
Updike's long interest in African literature was bound to up and produce something like this eventually. Read full book review >
TOSSING AND TURNING by John Updike
Released: May 1, 1977

"Each reader will make his own choice."
Industrious novelist John Updike has rounded up another collection of verse, and lo! in this medium he grows serious even while his novels turn into "entertainments." Read full book review >
MARRY ME by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 1, 1976

"The book's a little like a cedilla to the stronger works—a small, slow curve."
Marry me, love me, leave me, marry me—forget me? Read full book review >
PICKED-UP PIECES by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 1, 1975

"Updike is a Renaissance man of many talents and seasons, reflecting the values which reach us—reality, civilized pleasure, and those recognitions which enlarge the written word."
The old, perhaps toothless saw, that the novelist is not necessarily a good critic any more than the drunk is a good bartender is certainly disproved by three contemporary cases—Sheed, Leonard and especially John Updike who is a reviewer of extraordinary grace, clarity, amiability and of course humor. Read full book review >
A MONTH OF SUNDAYS by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 1, 1975

"A feat of sorts as well — although many readers will be uncomfortable in the hot seat that is his pew."
Purely and simply, or rather impurely and not so simply, this is the Updike man, whether in vestments or not, we have often met before — the lacerated Calvinist, here a Barthian (Barth after all is the most unobtainable — "opacity triumphant"), as divided as sin and salvation particularly when it comes to adultery which is our inherent and inevitable condition. Read full book review >
BUCHANAN DYING  by John Updike
Released: April 1, 1974

"Il est plus aise de connaitre l'homme en general, que de connaitre un homme en particulier' — might serve as a fitting clue to the fundamental absence of emotional interest, since the most revealing, intimate touch about Buchanan's character in Updike's dry, cold, statuesque play comes in an early stage direction: 'This is the so-called Back Bedroom, preferred by the dying man perhaps because, being over the kitchen, it was warm."
John Updike has made a stalwart attempt to rescue James Buchanan from historical oblivion — and failed. Read full book review >
MUSEUMS AND WOMEN AND OTHER STORIES by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 1972

"The title story is a marvelous synchronization of associations and convergences and here Updike is at his letter, word and image-perfect best."
The Updike short story has always been a limited abstract of experience — perhaps only a passing reflection of it — rarely innovative and often an echo chamber of the novels. Read full book review >
RABBIT REDUX by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 15, 1971

"This prolific and endlessly inventive writer may yet astound us all."
Lately John Updike seems to be the last Wasp writer left who has the nerviness, if not the convictions, of militant minorities. Read full book review >
BECH by John Updike
Released: June 15, 1970

"And of course with enough style to assure that the chicken soup is indeed an aspic."
Actuality is a running impoverishment of possibility"—thus the reduction ad diverting absurdum of Bech, man manque and failed artist for whom there can be no spiritual Baume Bengue. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 8, 1969

"O, for a good record and an honest retelling."
An utterly mindless adaptation in which the only beautiful thing is Mendelssohn's music, and that's soundless. Read full book review >
MIDPOINT AND OTHER POEMS by John Updike
Released: April 23, 1969

"Updike is a conventional writer with a conventional temperament and the remaining shorter poems in his collection are tidy and unexceptional."
John Updike is a master of miniature effects. Read full book review >
COUPLES by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 12, 1968

"It is relevant, identifiable and unconditionally involving."
The critical contention has been that John Updike is a major talent who has never written a major novel—all have turned in on a limited range of experience. Read full book review >
THE MUSIC SCHOOL by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 12, 1966

"A high standard for the genre as well as modern fiction."
A collection of the Old Hand's short stories, all of which appeared in The New Yorker magazine. Read full book review >
ASSORTED PROSE OF UPDIKE by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 15, 1965

"Kennedy and Eliot are, however, sturdy, brilliant accomplishments, further reminders of Updike's dazzling versatility: the fine critical-mind the comedic talent, the moving, decorous eulogist."
Updike, still in his early thirties, is probably the most gifted, certainly the most prolific, writer of his generation. Read full book review >
MAGIC FLUTE by John Updike
Released: Oct. 15, 1962

"The adventures of Tamino and Pamina, Papageno and Papagena come to life in this junior libretto which can serve to prepare youngsters for the opera itself."
The main musical themes scattered throughout the story embellish an exciting adaptation of Mozart's classic opera. Read full book review >
PIGEON FEATHERS by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 15, 1962

"For the connoisseurs, a collection of merit."
The eclat of this writer's career (The Poorhouse Fair, 1959, and Run. Read full book review >
THE CENTAUR by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 4, 1962

"The transition of the relationship between father, no longer demigod, and son, comes through with a signal tenderness and implements Updike's established virtues, the glittering and polished prose and the mature alliance of form, function and symbol."
As in his previous books, the tension here is in the style and words as well as in the narrative, and the worlds of George Caldwell and his 15 year old son Peter are heightened and illumined by them. Read full book review >
THE CARPENTERED HEN by John Updike
Released: March 1, 1958

"For the market that has enjoyed the deftness and the everyman touches of McGinley, Fishback, or the originality of Nash, these will speak gaily."
Over 50 turns for the verse of a nimble minded (and witted and footed) newcomer, from The New Yorker, display a bent for word usage, the exercise of ideas, spontaneity, and a pleasant type of ingenuity. Read full book review >
THE POORHOUSE FAIR by John Updike
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 12, 1958

"For those whose pleasure lies in words and phrases and a sudden, awakening glimpse of different worlds and people around them."
An ingenious poet (The Carpentered Hen, p. 59, published by Harper) reveals a distinctive ability for portraying, clinically, sparsely, not only a place, — the poor-house, the incidents — inmates versus management, but also the quality of age and its relinquishing, reluctantly, of the past. Read full book review >