By John Updike
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780394502687, 320pp.)
Publication Date: November 12, 1978
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The Coup describes violent events in the imaginary African nation of Kush, a large, landlocked, drought-ridden, sub-Saharan country led by Colonel Hakim Félix Ellelloû. (“A leader,” writes Colonel Ellelloû, “is one who, out of madness or goodness, takes upon himself the woe of a people. There are few men so foolish.”) Colonel Ellelloû has four wives, a silver Mercedes, and a fanatic aversion—cultural, ideological, and personal—to the United States. But the U.S. keeps creeping into Kush, and the repercussions of this incursion constitute the events of the novel. Colonel Ellelloû tells his own story—always elegantly, and often in the third person—from an undisclosed location in the South of France.
John Updike was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania, in 1932. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954 and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal. In 2007 he received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. John Updike died in January 2009.
“One of Updike’s boldest and most imaginative performances.”—Newsweek
“Ellelloû is an extraordinary tour-de-force of a character. . . . What a rich, surprising, and often funny novel The Coup is.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A very funny book as well as a serious one. It’s the work of an intelligent and funny and passionate man—and it’s good.”—The Washington Post Book World