John Updike’s twentieth novel, like his first, The Poorhouse Fair
(1959), takes place in one day, a day that contains much conversation and some rain. The seventy-eight-year-old painter Hope Chafetz, who in the course of her eventful life has been Hope Ouderkirk, Hope McCoy, and Hope Holloway, answers questions put to her by a New York interviewer named Kathryn, and recapitulates, through the story of her own career, the triumphant, poignant saga of postwar American art. In the evolving relation between the two women, the interviewer and interviewee move in and out of the roles of daughter and mother, therapist and patient, predator and prey, supplicant and idol. The scene is central Vermont; the time is the early spring of 2001.
“A brief novel of deep feeling . . . What you recall is that reading Updike has always provided the pleasures you hoped were in store when you went through the trouble of learning to read.”—Time
“The premise of Seek My Face is clean and powerful, like a canvas by Barnett Newman. . . . Swirled over [it] is John Updike’s superabundant prose, dazzling strings of looping sentences that wrap these two women in glittering constellations of words.”—The New York Observer
“A rewarding new novel from our reigning master of surprise, the last sequence of which is surpassing in its beauty.”—San Francisco Chronicle