John Updike's new novel describes violent events in the imaginary African nation of Kush - a large, landlocked, drought-ridden, sub-Saharan country led by Colonel Hakim Félix Ellelloû. Colonel Ellelloû has four wives, a silver Mercedes, and a fanatic aversion—cultural, ideological, and personal—to the United States. But the U.S. keeps creeping into Kush, and the repercussions of this incursion constitute the events of the novel. The time of the novel is more or less that of the last year of Richard Nixon's presidency, with flashbacks to the Eisenhower era. Colonel Ellelloû tells his own story, sometimes in the third person.
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