The Poorhouse Fair

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The Poorhouse Fair


First edition
Author John Updike
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date

The Poorhouse Fair (1959) was the first novel by the American author John Updike. A second edition (New York : Knopf, 1977) included an introduction by the author and was slightly revised. [1]

John Updike American novelist, poet, short story writer, art critic, and literary critic

John Hoyer Updike was an American novelist, poet, short-story writer, art critic, and literary critic. One of only three writers to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once, Updike published more than twenty novels, more than a dozen short-story collections, as well as poetry, art and literary criticism and children's books during his career.



The residents of the Diamond County Home for the Aged prepare for their annual fair, a summer celebration at which they sell their crafts and produce to the people of the nearby town. The fair is at first rained out, and the young prefect, Conner, turns the "inmates" against him by arguing with the noble Hook (94 years old, a former teacher with strong religious beliefs). After the rain clears, some residents fling small stones at Conner. The novel examines the political and religious dialectics that exist among its characters and their respective generations.

Critical reception

The novel has been overshadowed by Updike's more popular works, and reviews have been mixed. As examples, Donald Barr of The New York Times deemed it "a work of intellectual imagination and great charity," [2] while Commentary called it a "hearty but not very successful try at a first novel." [3]

Donald Barr was an American educator and writer. He taught English at Columbia University, was headmaster at the Dalton School in New York City (1964–74) and the Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York, and wrote two science fiction novels.

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 125 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 17th in the world by circulation and 2nd in the U.S.

<i>Commentary</i> (magazine) American magazine

Commentary is a monthly American magazine on religion, Judaism, and politics, as well as social and cultural issues.

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