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 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.
“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