John Updike and the Overtly Political

In a recent Q&A, John Updike says of a novel by Ngugi wa Thiong’o:

“I find it a hard book to believe, it’s overtly political, which pains me. I was told by my daughter in-law, who is a Kenyan, that Ngugi liked it – he’s trying to fictionalize the dire conditions of African politics and African leadership, which I thought was terribly broad. You also have to consider there’s a virtue to a book that you are blind to or numb to get though…”

Willfully “blind”?

Purposefully “numb”?

This comment by Updike helps reveal the bankrupt nature of about half of his “rules” for reviewing, the negligent nature of the framing emphasis of his “rules”.

Updike states, “Those rules were written by a much younger and cockier writer, but I have purposefully followed them…”

Written I don’t know when but published when Updike was 44?

While Updike is a talented, accomplished, and thoughtful writer in a lot of ways, a pronounced part of his work and views on writing, including his “rules” for reviewing, perpetuate the degraded nature of a negligent, unjust, and marauding status quo. His ideology is utterly typical of the predominant current and long-time lit establishment and establishment culture. If there is to be a future, such ideology needs to be overcome and outgrown.Some detail on this regarding his rules for reviewing at Updike’s Lit Establishment Rules.

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