American novelist, short‐story writer, and poet, born in Pennsylvania, and educated at Harvard. His novels include the sequence Rabbit, Run (1960), Rabbit Redux (1971), Rabbit is Rich (1981), Rabbit at Rest (1990), and Rabbit Remembered (published in the collection Licks of Love, 2001), a small‐town domestic tragicomedy which traces the career of ex‐basketball champion Harry Angstrom from the early days of his precarious marriage to alcoholic Janice, through the social and sexual upheavals of the 1960s, to the compromises of middle age; The Centaur (1963) uses a mythological framework to explore the relationship of a schoolmaster father and his teenage son; and Couples (1968) is a portrait of sexual passion and realignment amongst young suburban married couples in Tarbox, Massachusetts, a town which in this and succeeding works takes on an archetypal quality.
Updike's characteristic preoccupations with the erotic, with the pain and striving implicit in human relationships, and with the sacred in daily life, are conveyed in an ornate, highly charged prose, which reaches its most flamboyant in an atypical work, The Coup (1979), an exotic first‐person narration by the ex‐dictator of a fictitious African state. Other novels include The Witches of Eastwick (1984), Memories of the Ford Administration (1992), Brazil (1994), and Gertrude and Claudius (2000), based on the characters in Hamlet. A Month of Sundays (1975), Roger's Version (1986), and S (1988) form a linked sequence based on reworkings of Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Later novels include Villages (2004), set in New England, and Terrorist (2006), about an 18‐year‐old devout Muslim boy living in New Jersey. His other publications include volumes of short stories, selections of reviews, and essays. Collected Poems 1953–1992 appeared in 1993.