While reviewing John Updike's 2006 novel, Terrorist, Amitav Ghosh
It is as if a belief in American multiculturalism is the only good reason a human being could have for staying alive. Why indeed do the billions of non-Americans who walk this Earth refrain from blowing themselves up? I suspect that Updike really cannot see that they have any good reason not to. ·
Christopher Hitchens provides a perspective:
Updike had landed himself, in addition, with the almost one-man commitment among the literati of being a supporter of the Johnson administration in Vietnam. The essay bears rereading today because, even if it doesn't contain any reasoned defense of the war itself, it does in a mild but brave and ultimately irreducible way insist that the United States is superior to its enemies, both foreign and domestic, and can therefore still be right even when it is in the wrong.
...he added with typical diffidence that two of his children had married Africans and that he now had some genuinely "African-American" grandchildren. He appeared highly diverted and pleased by this thought, and I notice that the first edition of his memoir Self-Consciousness, containing that original anti-'60s essay, is dedicated "To my grandsons John Abloff Cobblah and Michael Kwame Ntiri Cobblah." These names, which I would guess to be Ashanti/Ghanaian, make one wonder if President Barack Obama missed an opportunity, and we all missed an experience, in not inviting the whole Updike clan to be present while one of the country's finest writers could still give us an "invocation."
and concludes, John Updike was:
"a man of wry and reserved delicacy and elegance who would prefer very slightly to be wrong on account of the right reservations than right because of the wrong ones":
Feb 05, 2009