John Updike, writer was 76 *

John Updike released more than 50 books in a career that started in the 1950s. He won two Pulitzer Prizes, for ''Rabbit Is Rich'' and ''Rabbit at Rest,'' two National Book Awards and many other literary awards. From AP, which calls Updike a "prolific man of letters and erudite chronicler of sex, divorce and other adventures in the postwar prime of the American empire:"

Although himself deprived of a Nobel, he did bestow it upon one of his fictional characters, Henry Bech, the womanizing, egotistical Jewish novelist who collected the literature prize in 1999.

His settings ranged from the court of ''Hamlet'' to postcolonial Africa, but his literary home was the American suburb. Born in 1932, Updike spoke for millions of Depression-era readers raised by ''penny-pinching parents,'' united by ''the patriotic cohesion of World War II'' and blessed by a ''disproportionate share of the world's resources,'' the postwar, suburban boom of ''idealistic careers and early marriages.''

He captured, and sometimes embodied, a generation's confusion over the civil rights and women's movements, and opposition to the Vietnam War. Updike was called a misogynist, a racist and an apologist for the establishment.

Updike died of lung cancer, his publisher said.

* Reactions and obits:
The New Yorker tributes: "Over the years, John Updike contributed a staggering amount of fiction and criticism to The New Yorker, but his very first piece in the magazine was a poem."
David Ulin at LAT Jacket Copy
NYT archives and video
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt obit/NYT
Mary Rourke obit/LAT

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