Rabbit Is Rich

Rabbit is Rich

First edition
Author John Updike
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date
September 12, 1981
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 480 pp
ISBN 0-394-52087-4
OCLC 7283732
813/.54 19
LC Class PS3571.P4 R25 1981
Preceded by Rabbit Redux
Followed by Rabbit At Rest

Rabbit Is Rich is a 1981 novel by John Updike. It is the third novel of the four-part series which begins with Rabbit, Run and Rabbit Redux, and concludes with Rabbit At Rest. There is also a related 2001 novella, Rabbit Remembered. Rabbit Is Rich was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction [1][lower-alpha 1] in 1982, as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 1981. The first-edition hardcover dust jacket for the novel was designed by the author, and is significantly different from the common horizontal-stripe designs used on the other three Rabbit novels. Later printings, including trade paperbacks, feature the trademark stripe motif with stock images of a set of car keys or an image of a late-1970s Japanese automobile.

Plot summary

This third novel of Updike's Rabbit series examines the life of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, a one-time high school basketball star, who has reached a paunchy middle-age without relocating from Brewer, Pennsylvania, the poor, fictional city of his birth. Harry and Janice, his wife of twenty-two years, live comfortably, having inherited her late father's Toyota dealership. He is indeed rich, but Harry's persistent problems his wife's drinking, his troubled son's schemes, his libido, and spectres from his past complicate life. Having achieved a lifestyle that would have embarrassed his working-class parents, Harry is not greedy, but neither is he ever quite satisfied. Harry has become somewhat enamored of a country-club friend's young wife. He also has to deal with the indecision and irresponsibility of Nelson, his son, who is a student at Kent State University. Throughout the book, Harry wonders about his former lover Ruth, and whether she had ever given birth to their daughter.

In the first edition of the novel, Updike repeatedly refers to a convertible Ford Maverick driven by Rabbit's wife, Janice, and later damaged by Rabbit's son, Nelson an automobile which was never actually manufactured by Ford Motor Company. The car is a minor plot point when Nelson decides to purchase two convertible cars in one of his first efforts at his father's dealership, and foreshadows the events of the subsequent Rabbit novel, Rabbit at Rest, in which Nelson has been given control of the dealership by his father.

Later printings change the Ford Maverick to a more accurate Ford Mustang, which was popular in the convertible body. In a speech Updike delivered on April 27, 1982 at Carnegie Hall, Updike mentioned this error and its correction, reflects on personally driving a convertible Ford Mustang, and notes a few other, more minor anachronisms in the novel.[2]


  1. This was the 1982 award for hardcover Fiction.
    From 1980 to 1983 in National Book Awards history there were dual hardcover and paperback awards in most categories. Most of the paperback award-winners were reprints, including the 1982 Fiction.


  1. "National Book Awards - 1982". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
    (With essays by Amity Gaige and Nancy Werlin and from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
  2. Updike, John. Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism
Preceded by
Plains Song: For Female Voices
Wright Morris
National Book Award for Fiction
With: So Long, See You Tomorrow
William Maxwell
Succeeded by
The Color Purple
Alice Walker
Preceded by
The Stories of John Cheever
John Cheever
Succeeded by
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty
Eudora Welty
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