Wednesday, January 28, 2009

John Updike, chronicler of American loves and losses, dies at 76

John Updike, the prolific writer who was an enduring presence in post-war literature and a chronicler of the loves and losses of small-town America, has died of lung cancer aged 76.

His publishing house, Alfred Knopf, announced the death in a hospice in Massachusetts, saying Updike was "one of our greatest writers and he will be sorely missed."

In a writing career that began in the early 1950s at the New Yorker magazine, and kept on going like a literary powerhouse until the very end, Updike conjured up more than 50 books and explored virtually every form open to him. On top of a steady stream of essays, literary criticism and short stories, in addition to the more than 20 novels, beyond the poetry, there was a play Buchanan Dying and a memoir Self- Consciousness.

Since his first book, a poetry collection, was published in 1958, there has only been five years without a new Updike book on the shelves.

Despite the quantity, Updike maintained a quality in his work daunting even to much less prolific writers. He had a love of words, and the precision of language, that resonated through everything he produced.

- Ed Pilkington, The Guardian

Read more here.

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