Author John Updike Dies at Age 76

BY Arts Desk  January 27, 2009 at 2:52 PM EDT

John Updike; AP photoJohn Updike, one of the most prolific and popular American authors of his generation, who chronicled the drama of everyday suburban life, died Tuesday, his publisher said.

“It is with great sadness that I report that John Updike died this morning at the age of 76, after a battle with lung cancer. He was one of our greatest writers, and he will be sorely missed,” said Nicholas Latimer of Alfred A. Knopf.

Updike, who lived in Beverly Farms, Mass., was best-known for his series of four novels and a novella about the life of Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom. He began his career in 1950, wrote more than 50 books, including short-stories, poetry and essays, and won virtually every literary prize, including two Pulitzers, for “Rabbit Is Rich” and “Rabbit at Rest,” and two National Book Awards.

“I’ve always had, I think, even before I began to publish, this notion that the ordinary middle-class life was enough to write about, that there was enough drama, interest, relevance, importance, poetry in it,” Updike told Jeffrey Brown in 2003. “I didn’t need to write historical epics, no, or science fiction, though I read a lot of science fiction as a kid and rather liked it. But I didn’t have the mentality….So I was stuck from my own limits, really, with middle- class… middle-class life, or the mundane, let’s call it, and so I was just trying to, story by story, encapsulate some aspect of life as I was experiencing it or observing it.”

We will have much more about Updike on Tuesday’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Here is that interview Jeffrey Brown did with Updike, back in 2003:

Another link: Updike also talked to Tavis Smiley in 2006 about his novel, “Terrorist.”