As Roger Lambert tells it, he, a middle-aged professor of divinity, is buttonholed in his office by Dale Kohler, an earnest young computer scientist who believes that quantifiable evidence of God’s existence is irresistibly accumulating. The theological-scientific debate that ensues, and the wicked strategies that Roger employs to disembarrass Dale of his faith, form the substance of this novel—these and the current of erotic attraction that pulls Esther, Roger’s much younger wife, away from him and into Dale’s bed. The novel, a majestic allegory of faith and reason, ends also as a black comedy of revenge, for this is Roger’s version—Roger Chillingworth’s side of the triangle described by Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter—made new for a disbelieving age.
John Updike was the author of more than sixty books, including collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. His novels have been honored with the Pulitzer Prize (twice), the National Book Award, and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Hugging the Shore, an earlier collection of essays and reviews, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. He died in January 2009.
“Remarkably interesting . . . One finishes it with . . . renewed respect for one of the most intelligent and resourceful of contemporary novelists.”—David Lodge, The New York Times Book Review “Wonderful reading from beginning to end . . . The precise, laconic bull’s-eye descriptive passages in this novel continually amaze with their absolute accuracy.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Wonderfully tricky and nakedly sharp-minded . . . Updike’s Roger Lambert is a perfectly 20th-century beast—boastfully wicked in all directions.”—The Washington Post Book World