Goodbye, Belgrade . . . Hello, Reading!

At the membership meeting that closed the Fifth Biennial John Updike Society Conference in Belgrade, Serbia, hosted by the Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade, there was consensus that the conference was among the best, if not the best. Everyone agreed that Belgrade was a wonderful city, and the conference hotel was perfectly located in the old city where participants could walk to Belgrade Fortress/Kalemegdan Park, the University, and the pedestrian streets with all the shops and squares and eateries. People enjoyed the sessions, group dinners, and group tours, and those who went on the all-day bus tour of sites outside Belgrade were delighted by the experience. Any time you have a group of academics dancing at a restaurant in Zemun, you’d have to say the conference was an unqualified success. So thank you again, Biljana Dojčinović!

Everyone had such a good time on this group adventure that they voted to adopt a model moving forward where the society alternates between conferences held in the U.S. and conferences held abroad. That means every four years the society will meet outside the U.S. So start saving for 2022. We don’t know where that conference will be yet, but we’ll embark on another adventure..

To see a gallery of 100+ photos from the Fifth Biennial JUS Conference, go to the society’s Facebook page.

Attention now turns to Reading and Shillington, the announced site for the Sixth Biennial John Updike Society Conference. Once again, Alvernia University will welcome society members, and once again Sue Guay, director of The John Updike Childhood Home, will direct the conference with the help of an academic program director. The conference will coincide with the grand opening of The John Updike Childhood Home as a museum-literary center, and members who have visited the house before will marvel at the transformation. The society envisions a celebration that involves not just the community but beyond it as well. It’s also a big year because 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the publication of Rabbit, Run, and what better way to celebrate than to “run” around Reading/Brewer? Guay said that the city is undergoing a rejuvenation, with a brand new hotel in downtown Reading and newly refurbished areas popping up on a daily basis. Twenty-twenty also happens to be the year in which Toward the End of Time is set, with additional anniversaries for the publication of Bech, a Book (60th), Rabbit at Rest (30th), and Gertrude & Claudius (20th).

Pictured below is Jonathan Houlon reprising his “Talkin’ Rabbit” at Tarposh vineyards and restaurant, where attendees enjoyed a three-hour wine-tasting lunch, and Michael Updike talking with U.S. Ambassador Kyle Scott, who, with his wife, hosted The John Updike Society at a memorable reception at their residence.

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