Updike’s “Africa” Novel

by zunguzungu

updike1

What's left of the U's at a local bookstore

Just started reading The Coup last night, and was mildly surprised to find myself engaged by it over the course of the twenty or so pages I read before I fell asleep. We’ll see how this plays out; I’m not optimistic. But I would say this: the invented African nation where the book is set seems to more or less to be Chad, and his grasp on historical geography is like five steps above the norm for this sort of thing (c.f. Sangala). For every misstep (a reference to “juju” that’s totally out of place outside of West Africa, for example), there are enough details that feel right to make me want to cut hims slack. That’s very impressionistic, and I may want to back away from it as I read more. But I’m rooting for him not to screw it up (as opposed to the usual thing where I’m looking for an easy target). And that’s something.