Nothing in his previous life could have prepared Colonel Hakim Felix Ellellou for his new role as the President of Kush. Neither the French army nor his American university provided a grounding in the subtle skills of revolutionary dictatorship. Still less did they expect him to acquire four wives Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving….

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Welcome sign in sign up. The official currency is the lu. The flag is a plain green field. The people are eating thorn-tips, wild nettles, crumbs of grain from anthills, bark. Even the most brackish water holes have been drunk dry.

Updike was in Africa in , one of the years of the great drought that reduced the always barren country around the Sahara to an absolute waste land.

Out of what he saw, out of many books, and out of his own head he has made the nation of Kush. It is an audacious creation and there must have been some magic in it too because the entire nation is there in all its splendor, farce, and misery. With much nerve and surely with some luck, Updike invented his Africa not the way other white novelists have done. The Colonel is short, prim, and black. He is appealing and wicked, and to me at least he is like Africans I have known except that Updike knows him better than ever I knew an African and I knew them for years.

The Colonel is frightening and I think he must have frightened Updike too, in a way that has done wonders for his writing. This is exclusive content for subscribers only. Choose a Print, Digital, or All Access subscription. If you are already a subscriber, please be sure you are logged in to your nybooks. Facebook Twitter RSS.

The Coup by John Updike.


Alt-Media cites Updike’s The Coup

The Coup is a novel by American author John Updike. Hakim Felix Ellellou, ex-dictator of Kush, a fictional Islamic state in Sub-Saharan Africa, narrates the history of his life and his rule over his former desert empire from his current exile in France. With his drought ridden country ever on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, Ellellou's troubles begin when the hated Americans begin sending food aid to his starving people. The crazed dictator has the crates of food burned to keep out the Americans but his second-in-command turns against him, secretly negotiating a deal with the United States for rights to the country's oil.


Keep in mind, however, that the population of Niger in was 5. Today it is The Coup begins with the Col. Gadaffi-like Col. Ellellou writing his memoirs in a Nabokovian-Updikean prose style:.

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